Child Abuse Lawyer

Child abuse is one of the most daunting and troubling crimes a defendant can face.  If you or a loved one is facing child abuse charges, it is essential that you speak with and hire an experienced attorney to navigate through the criminal process and escape the serious consequences of these charges.  These crimes are taken very seriously by society, police, judges and prosecutors.  Being accused of child abuse can have immediate and devastating affects on your personal life, family relationships, child custody and employment.  Child Abuse Laws Child abuse laws are governed by the Rhode Island General Law.  Title 40 of the Rhode Island General Law governs abused and neglected children.  Title 11 discusses Shaken Baby Syndrome, Title 23 is the Safe Haven Act.   § 11-9-5  Cruelty to or neglect of child. –  (a) Every person having the custody or control of any child under the age of eighteen (18) years who shall abandon that child, or who shall treat the child with gross or habitual cruelty, or who shall wrongfully cause or permit that child to be an habitual sufferer for want of food, clothing, proper care, or oversight, or who shall use or permit the use of that child for any wanton, cruel, or improper purpose, or who shall compel, cause, or permit that child to do any wanton or wrongful act, or who shall cause or permit the home of that child to be the resort of lewd, drunken, wanton, or dissolute persons, or who by reason of neglect, cruelty, drunkenness, or depravity, shall render the home of that child a place in which it is unfit for that child to live, or who shall neglect or refuse to pay the reasonable charges for the support of that child, whenever the child shall be placed by him or her in the custody of, or be assigned by any court to, any individual, association, or corporation, shall be guilty of a felony and shall for every such offense be imprisoned for not less than one year nor more than three (3) years, or be fined not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both, and the child may be proceeded against as a neglected child under the provisions of chapter 1 of title 14.

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(b) In addition to any penalty provided in this section, any person convicted or placed on probation for this offense may be required to receive psychosociological counseling in child growth, care and development as a part of that sentence or probation. For purposes of this section, and in accordance with § 40-11-15, a parent or guardian practicing his or her religious beliefs which differ from general community standards who does not provide specified medical treatment for a child shall not, for that reason alone, be considered an abusive or negligent parent or guardian; provided, the provisions of this section shall not: (1) exempt a parent or guardian from having committed the offense of cruelty or neglect if the child is harmed under the provisions of (a) above; (2) exempt the department from the provisions of § 40-11-5; or (3) prohibit the department from filing a petition, pursuant to the provisions of § 40-11-15, for medical services for a child, where his or her health requires it.  § 11-9-5.3  Child abuse – Brendan’s Law. – (a) This section shall be known and may be referred to as “Brendan’s Law”. (b) Whenever a person having care of a child, as defined by § 40-11-2(2), whether assumed voluntarily or because of a legal obligation, including any instance where a child has been placed by his or her parents, caretaker, or licensed or governmental child placement agency for care or treatment, knowingly or intentionally: (1) Inflicts upon a child serious bodily injury, shall be guilty of first degree child abuse. (2) Inflicts upon a child any other physical injury, shall be guilty of second degree child abuse. (c) For the purposes of this section, “serious bodily injury” means physical injury that: (1) Creates a substantial risk of death; (2) Causes protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily parts, member or organ, including any fractures of any bones; (3) Causes serious disfigurement; or (4) Evidences subdural hematoma, intercranial hemorrhage and/or retinal hemorrhages as signs of “shaken baby syndrome” and/or “abusive head trauma.” (d) For the purpose of this section, “other physical injury” is defined as any injury, other than a serious bodily injury, which arises other than from the imposition of nonexcessive corporal punishment. (e) Any person who commits first degree child abuse shall be imprisoned for not more than twenty (20) years, nor less than ten (10) years and fined not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000). Any person who is convicted of second degree child abuse shall be imprisoned for not more than ten (10) years, nor less than five (5) years and fined not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000). (f) Any person who commits first degree child abuse on a child age five (5) or under shall not on the first ten (10) years of his or her sentence be afforded the benefit of suspension or deferment of sentence nor of probation for penalties provided in this section; and provided further, that the court shall order the defendant to serve a minimum of eight and one-half (8 1/2) years or more of the sentence before he or she becomes eligible for parole. (g) Any person who has been previously convicted of first or second degree child abuse under this section and thereafter commits first degree child abuse shall be imprisoned for not more than forty (40) years, nor less than twenty (20) years and fined not more than twenty thousand ($20,000) dollars and shall be subject to subsection (f) of this section if applicable. Any person who has been previously convicted of first or second degree child abuse under this section and thereafter commits second degree child abuse shall be imprisoned for not more than twenty (20) years, nor less than ten (10) years and fined not more than ten thousand ($10,000) dollars. See Rhode Island General Laws- Title 11, Chapter 9 for other child protection laws.  REPORTING CHILD ABUSE IN RHODE ISLAND It is not only those who are accused of child abuse who need to know about child abuse laws.   Persons engaged in certain positions who deal with children must report to the authorities when they suspect child abuse, and any person who deals with children as part of their job should consult a child abuse attorney to know under what circumstances he or she is required to report suspected abuse. Some of the most common professions that must report child abuse include teachers and other school administrators, medical professionals and social workers.  A majority of child abuse cases are prosecuted because of people in these positions report the crimes.  Knowing whether or not you are required to report child abuse is important, since failure to report child abuse can lead to both civil and criminal penalties.  If you think you may have to report child abuse, the guidance of a child abuse lawyer is often helpful to navigate such a serious situation.

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Child abuse and child neglect are very serious and have serious ramifications if not handled by a skilled attorney.  It is important to hire a skilled attorney as soon as possible.  Contact Attorney Stefanie Murphy to discuss your case, your defenses, your rights and all your options.  Please call (401) 316-9423 or email