What Is Child Abuse?
A child abuse charge involves an act or failure to act that causes harm to a child. Under federal law, child abuse is defined and explained under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). CAPTA was first put in place in 1974 to acknowledge that child abuse and neglect exist and to allocate federal money and support to tackle it. CAPTA states that child abuse is:
- Any recent act or failure to act by a parent or caretaker towards a child that results in death, serious physical harm, serious emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation
- Any act or failure to act that causes a risk of impending harm to a child
Only parents and caretakers can be charged with federal child abuse crimes. A child under the federal definition is a minor under 18 years old who has not been emancipated. If you are facing federal criminal charges, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
What Are the Potential Penalties for Federal Child Abuse Charges?
Most child abuse cases are litigated at the state level and are not charged as federal crimes. There are situations where federal charges can be filed where the abuse of a child involves sexual assault or trafficking. Federal crimes involving sexual abuse of children include:
- 18 USC 2241 – Aggravated sexual abuse
- 18 USC 2242 – Sexual abuse
- 18 USC 2243 – Sexual abuse of a minor or ward
- 18 USC 2244 – Abusive sexual contact
The punishment for these charges can be very harsh. A conviction for aggravated sexual abuse can result in a life sentence or any term of years, while sexual abuse of a minor or ward can result in up to 15 years in federal prison. Fines, probation, and other punishments can be imposed for a child abuse conviction.
What Are the Types of Child Abuse?
Child abuse can take on many forms. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognize four major categories of child abuse as physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. Examples of child abuse within these categories include:
- Child trafficking
- Child labor
- Forced adoption
- Child marriage
- Female genital mutilation
These are just some examples of activity that is deemed child abuse under state and federal laws. Child abuse can also be charged with a failure to properly care for a child or putting them in dangerous environments. For a federal charge to be filed, the activity must occur within a special jurisdiction or must take place in a federal facility. If the case does not meet federal guidelines, then it can be charged and prosecuted by the state.
What Are Some Examples of Defenses to Child Abuse?
There are a few different types of defenses that can be available for a child abuse charge. Some common examples of defenses to child abuse include:
- False allegation by the child
- The injuries that the child suffered were due to an accident
- The injuries that the child suffered were because of something that was not child abusive activity, such as playing a sport
- The right of a parent or caretaker to discipline their children
If you are facing child abuse charges, then one of the above defenses might apply to your case. Each case is unique; make sure that you have your case professionally assessed by an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to determine what your best defenses are.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
All federal criminal cases are tried in United States District Courts across the Country. There are three United States District Courts for Pennsylvania. If you have a federal criminal case in Pennsylvania, it will be heard in one of these courts. If you live in central or eastern Pennsylvania, then your criminal case will be heard in the Middle or Eastern District Court.
If you lose your case in a federal district court, then you can appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The only court higher than this is the United States Supreme Court. A case will only make it to the Supreme Court if the Supreme Court decides to hear the case. There is no right to be heard in the United States Supreme Court on an appeal. An experienced attorney can help you understand the court process and what you must do to defend your case.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are facing criminal charges, then it is important to have an experienced attorney helping you. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and what evidence the prosecution has. This information is important so you can build a defense. If you are represented by an experienced attorney, then they can also help you decide if it is best to take the case to trial or work out a resolution.
If you want to make a deal, then your attorney can help you negotiate the deal and give you their opinion on whether you should take the deal negotiated or not. Before making any decisions in your case, make sure you understand everything about the case you have and what can happen if you are convicted. If you have questions, then contact us at The Lento Law Firm.
Why Hiring Lento Law Is the Right Choice
If you are being investigated or prosecuted federally for child abuse, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney immediately. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people defend countless criminal charges in several jurisdictions. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring Lento Law is the right choice to help defend your federal case.