Reporting cases of child abuse or neglect is only the first step in the long process that the state of California has created to protect children from their abusers. However, many reports of child abuse have little to no merit, mainly because of the low evidentiary standard that these reports require. While this low standard is meant to allow bystanders to report possible issues of neglect or abuse without having to conduct a thorough investigation that they are ill-equipped to do, it often results in innocent people facing serious allegations of child abuse.
Understanding how the low evidentiary standard leads to more allegation of child abuse can help you see how the process works, in the big picture.
Child abuse or neglect is often a difficult thing to prove, especially without an extended investigation that includes formal interviews with all of the people involved. Knowing that this is the case, and yet still interested in getting as many people as possible to report possible instances of abuse when they see them, the state of California allows people and bystanders to file reports of possible abuse or neglect whenever they have a reasonable suspicion that they are occurring.
This is a low standard. It allows bystanders without any understanding of a family’s dynamics to make formal reports of possible neglect or abuse without much more than a hunch. It allows landlords or neighbors to report child abuse to the authorities, simply based on what they hear through the walls. It allows barbers to report abuse if they are cutting a child’s hair and see a bruise on his or her neck.
Because of this low standard, many reports of abuse are filed that have little to no merit. Nevertheless, it is important to fight them whenever they are filed against you because the repercussions of a child abuse conviction are serious.
If you are the subject of a claim of child abuse, you need legal representation to help guide you through the difficult process of clearing your name before it escalates into a criminal charge. The family law attorneys at Charles D Stark Attorney at Law, in Sonoma County, can help. Contact our law office online or at 707.527.9900 to get the legal help that you need to clear your name.