Accidents happen; people trip, slip, miss a step, fall off bikes, walk into signs while looking at their phones, stumble over sleeping pets…there is any number of perfectly benign and innocent ways that someone can end up with a black eye, bruised shoulder, broken bone, or worse.
Unfortunately, it's not unusual for people to see an injury to someone who is in a relationship and immediately suspect that it was caused by that person's partner or parent. “Who did that to you?” “How did you get that black eye?” “Are you sure everything's okay at home?” These are sometimes typical reactions from concerned friends and colleagues when they see common injuries that can be caused by simple accidents…or by abuse.
Some Reports May be Legally Required
Friends or health workers may go even further and report abuse based on their suspicion that it has occurred. If the injury is to a child, there is a Pennsylvania law that requires certain people – health workers and educators are two – to report to authorities if they reasonably suspect that the child is a victim of abuse. If the injury is to an adult, friends or acquaintances (indeed, anybody) can report suspected criminal abuse to the authorities.
In addition, healthcare workers are also required to report injuries “inflicted in violation of any penal law” – except in certain situations where the victim does not consent to the reporting. Those situations are where the victim is an adult; the injury is not a “serious bodily injury;” and where it was inflicted by the victim's current or former spouse, sexual partner, or sibling. In those cases, if the victim refuses to consent to the reporting, the healthcare worker is required to refer the victim to a victim services agency.
The Problem of Good Intentions
The obvious problem that can arise in these situations is when an injury really was caused by an accident, but it's reported to the authorities, and they act on the report and arrest someone who had nothing to do with it. Abuse cases – whether the alleged abuse is to a significant other or to a child – are highly-charged situations, ones where the mere fact that an arrest has been made will leave a cloud of suspicion hanging over the defendant, even if the defendant is ultimately cleared of the charges.
You Need an Experienced Advocate
If you have been charged with abuse as a result of someone making a report to authorities based on their suspicion that you have injured your significant other or a child, you need the help of a firm that has years of experience defending clients in these kinds of cases in Pennsylvania. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team have that kind of experience. They have helped clients all over Pennsylvania defend themselves against spousal and child abuse, assault, and other crimes, and they can help you. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team today at 888.535.3686 or by using the firm's online contact form to set up a consultation.