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Child Abuse and Neglect

Posted by E. W. Childers | Oct 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

A child abuse charge is an ugly situation whether the accused is guilty or innocent and it has to be handled with special care since the mere accusation has a tendency to outrage the community. The penalties available to the Jury and the Court for sentencing in many of these cases are very broad, with the range of punishment for a felony child abuse case being from a fine to life in prison. Rape or other sexual abuse of a younger child carries a minimum of 25 years to life in prison.

In larger jurisdictions, the prosecutors that are assigned to these cases have specialized training that makes them especially effective and knowledgeable in tactics to shut down ordinarily available defense options. The witnesses generally consist, in part, of children and so the same tactics that might be employed on cross-examination of a police officer or other adult witness will backfire if applied to a child creating even more sympathy for the complaining witnesses in such cases. Additionally, special rules apply to the evidence of a child victim/witness that would not apply to evidence given by an adult witness and the result is that each case involving such witnesses requires an extraordinary degree of caution and patience on the part of defense counsel.

Potential defenses at trial will tend to hinge on the unreliability of the evidence that younger children give. For example, evidence of "coaching" can often be elicited for the jury resulting in reasonable doubt about the guilt of the defendant. To avoid a trial and what they perceive as trauma for the complaining child witnesses some prosecutors will make a favorable offer to resolve the matter, though this depends on the prosecutor involved in the matter.

About the Author

E. W. Childers

I am a husband, father, Army veteran, and attorney here in Norman, Oklahoma. I've been practicing law throughout Central Oklahoma since 2006 shortly after I graduated from the OU College of Law. In my practice I have emphasized Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Personal Injury. I like to help peo...

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