A Criminal Defense Attorney | Lawyer’s view on Investigations and Allegations of Physical Child Abuse.
Domestic violence in the form of physical assaults on your child is also commonly called child abuse. Physical assault or abuse on children is treated differently in Washington’s systems of laws than assaults between adults and a reputable criminal defense attorney will be able to distinguish these crimes. To begin with, Assault and Assault of a Child are two different crimes in Washington and the investigation and prosecution of child assault cases involve multiple state agencies while assaults among adults rarely include more than the police and prosecutor.
Criminal Defense lawyers | attorneys who handle these kinds of cases must not only know the law, defenses to physical child abuse and how to handle the police and prosecuting attorney, but also must understand and know the role that Child Protective Services (CPS)will play in the case. With this in mind, this DSHS document is a mandatory read for any family or loved one facing a child protection or abuse investigation. Our criminal defense lawyers | attorneys and the team of lawyers we affiliate with have extensive experience in dealing with this agency and their investigation of domestic violence, assault and abuse of children. Aside from hiring competent counsel, we have one general piece of advice for anyone facing an investigation of assault on a child.
Washington law gives authority to police officers, Child Protective Services ( CPS) and certain hospital personnel to take children without warning if they suspect a child is at imminent risk of being harmed. Do not forget this fact when speaking with them.
It is easy to become defensive, angry or scared when someone tells you that you are subject to an investigation of child assault or abuse. It is easy to react poorly; the problem is investigating personnel will also react and potentially read into this reaction. This can be a problem as Washington law gives CPS, police officers and certain hospital personnel the ability to take children if they believe children are at risk of imminent harm. The problem is that even if later, at a hearing in front of a judge, you and your defense lawyer | attorney successfully argue you were right and CPS was wrong, you have still lost your child until this hearing. We have been brought in on a number of cases where an initial poor reaction has had lasting consequences despite the case never being filed. For example, most school personnel are mandatory reporters, and if their report becomes the root of an investigation, it can poison a family’s relationship with that school and/or its staff. As such, our office always recommends our clients remain calm and listen to what CPS’s concerns are, try not to take their investigation personally and consider what you can do to address any concerns expressed over immediate harm. Remind any investigating personnel that you or your family knows that the safety of the child comes first and you will follow whatever steps they recommend to ensure this. Be compliant, be polite, and if you find yourself wanting to give a detailed statement, remember, an unrecorded or even recorded interview is only as good as the listening and questioning skills of a, hopefully, unbiased interviewer. This is a lot of power in the hands of an unknown interviewer. Read our section on “Criminal Investigations” (link to this page) for more details. We have represented and helped a significant number of clients and their families at this stage of proceedings and our number one piece of advice is be calm, listen and don’t give statements. Call our office if CPS | DSHS calls to set up a time to conduct an interview so you do not get blindsided. Argument and statements should come through your lawyer, or at least after consulting with them.
Private defense work in this area of law is unique. Our firm has a distinct set of skills, knowledge and experience to handle your legal needs in this area. Our criminal defense lawyers/attorneys work as a team and we are highly experienced in dealing with complex cases and fact specific arguments. Our lawyers know that criminal cases are rarely simple and our clients retain us early on in the process to make sure their rights are protected. Consultations are free but a poor choice in counsel is not. The first step in evaluating counsel is an appointment. Call us at 206-708-7852 to set up an appointment today.