Child abuse in any form is a horrendous crime and because of that, even if the claimant doesn’t have a watertight case, a jury is far more likely to rule against a possible abuser than in support of one without a solid defense. Many child abuse claims turn out to be false after a thorough and responsible investigation, but allegations of child abuse can potentially ruin an innocent person’s life and reputation.
If you’re facing false child abuse charges, it’s vital to recognize any factors that may have led to the claimant believing that you’re guilty of child abuse. Some situations can be misinterpreted, and claimants may believe that they’re acting in the child’s best interests despite lacking incontrovertible evidence.
WHY DO PEOPLE MAKE FALSE CHILD ABUSE CLAIMS?
A claimant may file charges against you for child abuse for any number of reasons. It’s important to know these common motives in case your situation entails any of them:
- Good faith. A person may believe that a child is suffering abuse and file a claim without having the whole story. The claimant may have seen bruises from an accident that resembled a handprint or some similar evidence that indicated to them that the child was being abused. Even though the claimant has good intentions, he or she can still ruin the accused individual’s life with a false claim.
- A person may accuse someone of abuse to cause that person distress or to attempt to ruin his or her personal life and career. False child abuse claims often arise out of family arguments or disagreements between estranged spouses who share custody.
- Custody battles. When a couple divorces or separates, one may claim that the other was abusive toward the couple’s children in an attempt to deprive the other parent of custody. This is unfortunately common, but a skilled attorney can help the accused prove the claim is false – and in doing so, make the accuser appear less stable and untruthful during the custody proceedings.
These are only a few examples of factors that may spur an individual to lie about child abuse. Unfortunately for the accused, even a completely false accusation of child abuse can take an enormous toll, including financial losses for legal fees, a damaged reputation, registration on the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI), and jeopardized employment opportunities. Perhaps worst of all, when it comes to false claims against parents, a false accusation can irreparably damage the accused’s relationship with the supposed victim.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you’ve been falsely accused of any kind of child abuse, you must take action to protect your rights quickly. Consult with an attorney and start building a defense. Appearing passive in any way in the face of a child abuse claim doesn’t look good to the courts. The court system almost automatically tends to side against individuals accused of child abuse, so you need to show that you’ve taken steps to prove your innocence.
Don’t engage in any conduct that others could misinterpret. If you spend any time around children, have another adult with you to ensure that you won’t be accused of any wrongdoing unjustly. Character witnesses are also valuable assets. Reach out to friends, neighbors, and loved ones who can attest to your character and show the court that you don’t abusive tendencies or a history of child abuse.
It’s also important to stay cooperative with all investigative efforts. Even if the claim against you is absolutely untrue and groundless, don’t do anything to hinder or interfere with the investigation. Be forthcoming with any and all evidence, and answer any questions truthfully and as fully as possible.
For more information on child abuse charges and defenses, please visit our San Diego child abuse defense attorney page here.