The state of Texas does not view people who abuse children favorably. In fact, a third-degree child abuse conviction comes with a potential sentence of 2 to 10 years in jail.
In the moments after you discovered the wrongful abuse allegation, you likely felt helpless or out of control. However, you can take immediate steps to help control the situation and prevent further chaos. If you've been wrongfully accused, learn what you can do now to protect yourself.
The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) opens a case file into suspected abuse whenever they receive a claim. For a severe accusation, the child may be immediately removed from the home if the alleged abuser is also the child's parent. Otherwise, DFPS will initiate an investigation.
As part of the process, the agency will request to separately interview you and your child. Exercise your legal right. Do not let the investigator into your home and do not answer any of their questions.
Everything you say and everything the investigator sees will be used against you later. Allow your child to come to the entryway of your home so that the DFPS agent can see that the child is safe. If the DFPS agent does not have an opportunity to see the child, they may obtain a warrant and your child could be taken into custody.
Take the Matter Seriously
How seriously you take the accusation determines your future. You may feel the claim is baseless. However, you must take the situation seriously and take immediate actions to safeguard your freedom.
First, hire an attorney. Child abuse is often characterized as physical abuse, such as hitting a child. As a result, if you've never put your hands on your child, you might have a hard time understanding why you've been accused.
However, in the state of Texas, abuse is defined as any intentional act that causes any form of mental, emotional, or physical injury to a child. Punishing a child by withholding meals or verbally abusing a child to the point of psychological trauma are both forms of child abuse.
An attorney is crucial to ensure you understand the claims against you. An attorney will also use their knowledge to help establish the best angle for your defense.
Second, avoid unnecessary situations. For example, if the accusation is sexual in nature, avoid situations that may be misperceived. In this instance, the accused would want to avoid being around the child in the bathroom or other settings where they are alone with the child.
A wrongful accusation of abuse is a difficult pill to swallow. Yet you must remain calm. Whether the claim is still in the hands of DFPS or has progressed to law enforcement, short-tempered or aggressive behavior will never work in your favor.
Consider a situation where the parent is accused of spanking their child, for example. Also assume that each time the authorities communicate with the parent, the person is shouting and engaging in other aggressive behaviors.
Each instance of this behavior will be documented in the case or charge file. When the state argues their claims to a judge or jury, they will use these behavior accounts as evidence that the person is violent. To some people, violence and abuse go hand in hand.
Let your attorney handle as much of the communication as possible if you do not believe you can control your temper.
Do not underestimate the severity of the situation you face. The state will not simply drop the charges if they believe they have a credible claim against you. You must speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Contact the office of Joe D. Gonzales & Associates so that we can help you sort through this difficult matter.