Child Neglect Charges Defense Lawyers
Legal Defense for Child Neglect Charges Serving All of New Mexico
Child neglect is an oft misunderstood allegation that can result in wrongful charges and convictions. If you or someone you know has been accused of child neglect, don’t underestimate the importance of contacting an experienced defense attorney to help you fight for your rights. Being charged with child neglect is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly.
What is Child Neglect?
Wrongful allegations are usually the result of an improper understanding of child neglect. To better understand this topic, let us provide you with some legal definitions and practical explanations. In the state of New Mexico, a neglected child refers to a minor:
- Who has been abandoned by his/her parent, legal guardian, or custodian.
- Who is without proper parental care; this can include a lack of education, medical care, or other elements necessary for health and well-being.
- Who has been sexually, physically, or emotionally abused by his/her parent, legal guardian, or custodian.
- Whose parent, legal guardian, or custodian is not able to discharge his/her responsibilities to/for the child because of hospitalization, incarceration, or other mental or physical disorders.
- Who has been placed for adoption or care in violation of state law.
Because there are so many different factors in play in child neglect cases, there is often a lack of consistency in legal decisions and charges. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) attempts to clear up some of the confusion by defining minimal standards for child abuse and neglect. It states that child abuse and neglect are defined as:
- “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caregiver, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”
Furthermore, neglect is usually classified as mild, moderate, or severe.
- Mild neglect usually goes undetected and includes things like failing to put a child in a car safety seat.
- Moderate neglect includes things like inappropriately dressing a child for weather.
- Severe neglect is severe or prolonged harm done to a child. This includes incidents like lack of medical attention.
If you have been accused of child neglect, don’t underestimate the severity of the situation. You need to contact a qualified and experienced defense attorney to guide you through the process of clearing your name and regaining your freedom. In addition to telling the truth, you will need an attorney that can present the facts to the court and place the burden of proof on the accusers. Because neglect is so hard to define, wrongful accusations happen all the time. We see it every day in Albuquerque, New Mexico and know exactly how to respond.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are New Mexico’s child abuse reporting requirements?
Under New Mexico law, anyone who “reasonably suspects” child abuse must report his suspicions and the basis for them to
- a law enforcement agency,
- the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, or
- a tribal authority (if applicable).
This requirement is enforced mainly against professionals such as doctors. A violation can result in up to a year in jail.
Is it child neglect to drive drunk with a child in the car?
Yes. Driving while intoxicated with a child in the car is a felony known as negligent child abuse, with a maximum period of incarceration of three years. If there were several children in the car you can be charged with a separate felony for each child.
Can a parent be convicted of child neglect for leaving a child alone in a locked car while he runs into the supermarket to pick up a few things?
Sometimes, but not always. A lot depends on factors such as the outside temperature, how old the child is, and how long the child was left alone. Because of the ambiguity surrounding this issue, however, it is best not to try it.
Can you guarantee that you will keep my secrets?
Yes, absolutely. As lawyers licensed by the state of New Mexico, we must observe attorney-client privilege. In fact, we could be disbarred for divulging any of your secrets (including “I’m guilty”). We would never reveal your secrets anyway – it is simply unethical.
What is a conditional discharge?
Under a conditional discharge, you agree to certain requirements, such as community service or probation, for a certain period. If you meet these conditions, your charges will be dismissed. A conditional discharge is usually the result of a plea bargain.
Do the police need a warrant to arrest me?
Sometimes. Although the general rule is that the police need an arrest warrant, so many exceptions exist that it is dangerous to depend on it. The police need a warrant to arrest you for a misdemeanor unless the officer saw you commit the crime.
What is a deferred sentence?
A deferred sentence is a compromise in which you agree to meet certain probation requirements for a certain period of time. If you meet them for the required time, charges will be dropped. The purpose of this arrangement is to allow the defendant to avoid a criminal record.
What should I do if I am confronted about child neglect by the police?
- Refuse to answer any questions without your lawyer present.
- Don’t give permission for a search, but do not resist it if the officers have a search warrant.
- Contact your lawyer immediately if you receive a summons or if you are taken to the police station for questioning.
If I am convicted, can I appeal it?
Yes, you have the right to one appeal, but not necessarily any more than that. You will probably be required to begin serving your sentence while your appeal is pending, however. If your conviction is overturned, however, you will be able to avoid a criminal conviction on your record.
What to Do
In order for us to respond, you must take the first step. You need to reach out and take action. While you may be tempted to fight for your innocence on your own, don’t make this mistake. It is extremely difficult to fight accusations from children, as the court usually errs on the side of caution when dealing with minors.
At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we’ve focused on protecting the rights of our clients since 1997. We use aggressive representation and bold strategies with one goal in mind: clearing your name. If you have been wrongfully accused of child neglect, don’t hesitate to contact us today. With years of courtroom experience and attention to detail, you can rest assured your case will be in good hands. We always require the prosecution to assume the full burden of proof in every case, and our record of competency demands respect in the courtroom. If you have any questions or concerns, we would be happy to set up a free initial consultation in our Albuquerque, New Mexico, offices.