San Bernardino Child Neglect Attorney
While many people flock to San Bernardino either as tourists or permanent residents, its beauty does not prevent unfortunate legal cases from occurring just like everywhere else in the United States. Child neglect cases are one of those issues that have come up many times in local courts. Because the well-being of children is a massive priority in California, these accusations are always taken very seriously. However, an accusation does not automatically mean that one is guilty.
The state also has a history of people who have been inaccurately accused of child neglect, whether it was an intentional mischaracterization of what happened or a misunderstanding. By having a stronger understanding of what constitutes child neglect, and the most common forms of defense in these scenarios, an individual can feel more comfortable securing legal representation and advancing through the process of protecting their rights.
What Is Child Neglect?
Under the umbrella of child abuse lies a subset of behavior called child neglect. This is where someone, either intentionally or ignorantly, does not meet a child’s most basic human survival needs, such as providing food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities. For example, any parent who does not make an organized effort to ensure that their child is properly fed every day can be found liable for child neglect.
By law, this is a form of child maltreatment that can be a detriment to their long-term health. An organization, such as Child Protection Services (CPS), may be called on, when there is suspicion of child neglect, to remove a child from the environment until a court rules in favor of or against the accusation.
What Are Common Forms of Child Neglect?
There are a few different categories that child neglect falls under. These includes:
- Physical Neglect: Varying forms of neglect can have physical manifestations that are visible to the naked eye. This could be a child who severely lacks proper hygiene, appears to have low energy, and is extremely malnourished. Basic needs, such as feeding a child, taking care of their hygiene, and providing adequate shelter, are basic requirements of a parent that need to be met to retain custody. If a parent does not, and allows them to keep experiencing physical abuse, there could be legal repercussions.
- Medical Neglect: Children are not independent enough to seek medical care on their own or make the sometimes-difficult decisions necessary for treatment. They rely on the guidance of the adults in their lives to navigate medical care. When an adult neglects to provide their child with medical care, it leaves room for an investigation into why this occurred and if it was illegal. For example, if a child fell in the backyard and broke their leg, a parent could be held liable if they did not seek emergency care.
- Educational Neglect: Another responsibility parents bear is the child’s education. Parents have the right to decide where and how a child is educated, but there is little room for forgiveness if a parent neglects a child’s educational needs. An example of this would be a parent refusing to enroll their child in public school or providing any type of formal homeschooling. Another scenario of neglect could be a parent who enables a child to rack up a ton of unexcused absences from school.
- Emotional Neglect: Preserving a child’s mental health is one of the most vital roles any parent has, especially in the age of internet bullying. A child should feel a level of emotional safety and receive affection when they are home. They should not experience any extended amount of isolation or verbal abuse that might be going on in the classroom. Any glaring evidence that a parent has negatively impacted a child’s emotional sanity could be met with legal repercussions.
This only touches on some forms of juvenile neglect that occur in San Bernardino child crimes. Keep in mind that not every neglect accusation is true. Whenever someone makes a claim, they must be able to support it with evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. It is up to the defendant to work with an attorney and devise a robust defense strategy to prove their innocence in court.
What Criminal Defense Strategies Can Protect Me From an Unfair Accusation?
If you are confident in your position of innocence against the child neglect accusation, there are different angles you and your attorney can take to make that clear in court. Some of the most common defenses used include:
- Missing Evidence: The court system in San Bernardino does not make final rulings lightly. There needs to be highly compelling evidence that connects the allegations of neglect to the defendant’s behavior. An attorney can take time to investigate the case and find any holes in the evidence. If any are identified, the defense strategy can focus on illustrating the missing evidence.
- Incorrect Accusations: It is not uncommon for someone to make a false allegation. These typically occur when someone wishes to inflict harm and destroy the reputation of the individual they are inaccurately accusing. This is why every citizen of the United States is presumed innocent before being proven guilty. If this has happened to you, an attorney can collect your account of what happened and work to prove the lie in court.
- Mistaken Identity: Even if someone has the most positive intentions in their accusation to protect a child, it does not stand up against a mistaken identity defense. There are many different adults in a child’s life, so it is plausible that someone could inaccurately believe one person led to a child’s injury when it was really another person.
- Good Faith: Sometimes, a defendant agrees with the prosecution that a child has been neglected, but they also believe that their actions that led to the outcome were in good faith. This defense is sometimes found in homeschooling cases. For example, a parent might decide to homeschool a child because they are being bullied at school. However, the child might fall behind in their education because the parent is not well-suited to be an educator. Because the original intent was in good faith, this can sometimes successfully save an individual from child neglect charges.
What Are My Rights Regarding the CPS in California?
Child Protective Services (CPS) prioritizes the welfare of children. They are a dedicated agency on a mission to restore a child’s right to live a life that is free from abuse and neglect. There are some general rights to be aware of when dealing with CPS in San Bernardino, including:
- The Right to Be Informed: If someone is being charged with an allegation, they have a right to know exactly what the charge is. CPS will share this when they officially open their investigation.
- The Right to Deny Entry: If CPS shows up on your doorstep and is seeking to enter, you have the right to deny the request. This is only true if CPS does not have a court order in hand allowing them to enter. If they are under the impression that your child is in immediate danger, they may obtain a court order to enter the home and assess the situation.
- The Right to a Court Hearing: An initial accusation does not constitute a conclusion. Anyone who is accused of child neglect, and has had a child removed from their home, has the right to defend their position in court. Through a non-biased jury and judge, a final ruling will be made after listening to both sides of the case.
- The Right to Legal Representation: The system understands that most citizens in the United States do not have a legal background and would be unfit to represent themselves in court. While you have the right to decline any type of formal representation, you are not forced to proceed that way. If you have any challenges affording an attorney, a public defender will be accessible for your case.
- The Right to Understand the CPS Case Plan: Anytime a child is removed from the home, CPS will create a case plan that details what they would need to see from the alleged neglectful parent to have their kids returned. You are legally allowed to review this plan as much as you need to comprehend what needs to be worked on and presented to CPS.
- The Right to Visitation: If a child is placed in foster care after removal from the home, the parent is generally allowed some form of visitation rights. However, this right is removed if there is any suspicion that the child is in danger until it is proven otherwise.
- The Right to Appeal: If you are unsatisfied with the results of your case, and do not believe the system got it right, you are allowed to appeal. This involves you and your lawyer taking a close look at how the jury reached their outcome and revising your strategy to convince them to reconsider.
These general rights when dealing with CPS are not exhaustive and vary based on the unique circumstances of each case. The only way to fully validate what rights are applicable in your child neglect case is to work directly with a San Bernardino child endangerment attorney.
Contact My SoCal Lawyers Today
If you are ready to defend your position in court, and regain control over your parental rights, contact My SoCal Lawyers today. We are extremely passionate about our work in this space, and we do not rest until your case is properly defended.