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Phoenix Child Abuse Lawyer

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney for Child Abuse Charges in Phoenix, AZ

Prosecutors and law enforcement in Arizona tend to heavily pursue criminal cases involving child safety, especially cases of alleged child abuse. As a result, individuals charged with child abuse often face a number of both immediate and long-lasting consequences, from significant fines to serious jail time and other penalties like loss of child custody. 

If you have been accused of child abuse in Arizona, you need a skilled Phoenix criminal defense attorney to defend you. At Belén Law Firm, we understand the gravity of child abuse accusations and the profound impact they can have on your life. That’s why our dedicated legal team is here to provide you with the unwavering support and aggressive representation you deserve in this difficult time.

Call (602) 715-0908 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with an attorney on our team regarding your case.

Phoenix child abuse attorney

What is Considered Child Abuse in Arizona?

In Arizona, child abuse involves causing or permitting a child to suffer physical injury, emotional distress, or other danger to their health or welfare. It also involves acts in which someone charged with the care and welfare of a child intentionally or recklessly puts that child’s well-being at risk.

ARS § 13-3623

Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS § 13-3623) outline what is considered to be child abuse (as well as vulnerable adult abuse) in Arizona. The law states that child abuse is any act or omission that causes a child to suffer harm, either intentionally or as a result of criminal negligence. This includes acts of physical assault, emotional abuse, false imprisonment, and sexual abuse. 

In Arizona law, a child is considered anyone under the age of 18. A vulnerable adult, on the other hand, is someone who is 18 years or older but cannot protect themselves from abuse, neglect, or mistreatment due to physical or mental impairment.

The statute also covers specific circumstances that would constitute child/vulnerable adult abuse. This includes allowing a child or vulnerable adult to enter or remain in a hazardous structure or vehicle. It also includes engaging in or allowing for the emotional abuse of a vulnerable adult in a healthcare or caregiving setting. 

The penalties for child abuse in Arizona vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged abuse as well as the intent behind the alleged abuse. Situations that are likely to cause serious physical injury or death can result in more serious punishments than situations involving other forms of child abuse. Also, intentional acts of child abuse can result in harsher punishments than unintentional acts of child abuse. 

Like other dangerous crimes against children in Arizona, child abuse can result in serious felony charges and other lifelong consequences. A Phoenix child abuse lawyer can help you understand the severity of the charges against you and what punishments you may be facing as a result of the accusations. 

Types of Child Abuse

Child abuse can take various forms, each with serious implications for a child’s well-being and distinct legal consequences under Arizona law. Below are some of the different types of child abuse in Arizona. 

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse involves causing a child to suffer bodily harm through actions such as hitting, shaking, burning, or other forms of physical assault that allow for physical injury, impairment of bodily function, or disfigurement. In Arizona, violent crimes that are committed against children can lead to felony charges, with the severity depending on whether the acts were intentional, reckless, or negligent.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse includes behaviors that harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being, such as constant criticism, threats, rejection, or withholding of love and support. In Arizona, someone can be charged with child abuse if, as the child’s caregiver, they cause the child to suffer from impaired mental faculties.

Emotional abuse also includes situations in which they cause the child to experience anxiety, depression, withdrawal, aggressive behavior, or social dysfunction which can be diagnosed by a doctor or psychologist. The law also states that acts of sexual abuse can result in serious emotional injury. 

Someone can also be charged with child abuse if they subject a vulnerable adult to emotional abuse within the context of caregiving or a healthcare setting.

Sexual Abuse

Another form of abuse outlined in the Arizona child abuse statute is sexual abuse.  Sexual abuse encompasses any form of sexual contact or exploitation of a child. This includes engaging in or allowing another adult to engage in sexual acts with a minor, including inappropriate touching, child molestation, statutory rape, incest, or using a child for child pornography

Child Neglect

Child neglect is the failure to provide for a child’s basic needs, including adequate food, shelter, medical care, and supervision. Under Arizona’s child abuse law, child neglect can result in a child abuse charge if, by neglecting a child, someone causes them to suffer from physical injury, serious physical injury, or death. 

child abuse lawyers Phoenix AZ

What are the Penalties for a Child Abuse Conviction in Arizona?

The penalties for child abuse in Arizona can vary depending on various factors, including the severity of the alleged abuse, the severity of the child’s injuries, and the intent behind the alleged act of abuse. Below are the penalties for acts of child abuse in the state of Arizona. 

Circumstances Likely to Produce Death or Serious Physical Injury

In many situations, child abuse can put a child or vulnerable adult in danger of serious physical injury or death. In a child abuse case, something can be considered to cause serious physical injury if it:

  • Creates a reasonable fear of death;
  • Causes serious permanent disfigurement;
  • Causes significant physical pain;
  • Causes serious health impairment;
  • Causes loss of, or impairment of, an organ or limb; or
  • Is the result of sexual abuse.

If an adult places the child or vulnerable adult in a situation that could lead to serious physical injury or death, they may be charged with a felony, regardless of whether or not the victim actually suffers injury. Below are the different felony charges associated with these kinds of child abuse:

  • If done intentionally: Class 2 felony, punishable by anywhere from 3 to 12.5 years in prison, up to $150,000 in fines, or both.
  • If done recklessly: Class 3 felony, punishable by anywhere from 2 to 8.75 years in prison, up to $150,000 in fines, or both.
  • If done with criminal negligence: Class 4 felony, punishable by anywhere from 1 and 3.75 years in prison, up to $150,000 in fines, or both.

Additionally, if the act of child abuse was done intentionally, and the victim was younger than 15 years old, then the alleged offender may face more severe punishments, especially if they have a prior criminal history of other dangerous crimes against children. 

Circumstances Other Than Those Likely to Produce Death or Serious Physical Injury

Other acts of child abuse that do NOT place the child or vulnerable adult at risk of serious injury can result in different punishments. If someone causes a child or vulnerable adult to suffer physical injury or, as a caregiver, places them in a position where their health or safety is endangered or allows another adult to place them in an endangering situation, they may face the following punishments: 

  • If done intentionally: Class 4 felony, punishable by between 1 and 3.75 years in prison, up to $150,000 in fines, or both.
  • If done recklessly: Class 5 felony, punishable by between 0.5 and 2.5 years in prison, up to $150,000 in fines, or both.
  • If done with criminal negligence: Class 6 felony, punishable by between 0.33 and 2 years in prison, up to $150,000 in fines, or both.

Emotional Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult in a Healthcare or Caregiving Setting

If someone acting as a caregiver or healthcare provider inflicts emotional abuse on a vulnerable adult, they could be charged with a Class 6 felony, which can result in anywhere between 4 months to up to 2 years in prison, $150,000 in fines, or both.

Additional Consequences That Come With Child Abuse Charges

In addition to the above legal consequences, someone accused of child abuse may suffer from a number of other additional consequences. This includes things like the loss of parental rights, damage to one’s reputation, and social stigma. In some situations, child protective services may intervene, leading to the removal of the child from the home and placement in foster care.

Additionally, a felony conviction could cause someone to lose their right to own firearms as well as their right to vote, and may lead to them having difficulty finding employment or housing following their conviction.

Arizona child neglect attorney

Why You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Child abuse charges carry significant legal and personal consequences which can negatively impact multiple aspects of your life, especially if you are a parent. If you have been accused of child abuse, the best thing you can do for yourself is to seek legal advice from a local criminal defense attorney.

Child abuse attorneys can help you fight against these charges and ensure your future is protected from the harsh consequences of a child abuse conviction. Additionally, they provide invaluable support and guidance during what can be a highly stressful and emotionally challenging time.

At Belén Law Firm in Phoenix, AZ, our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help develop a strong defense strategy on your behalf, fight for your innocence, and/or negotiate with prosecutors to help you secure a favorable deal. Additionally, we can ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process, providing you with a fair chance at freedom.

Potential Defenses for Child Abuse in Arizona

There are a number of different defense strategies that attorneys will use to fight against child abuse charges. Some common defenses to alleged child abuse include:

  • The accusations are false
  • Having an alibi for the alleged crime
  • The injury was the result of unintentional, accidental action
  • A lack of evidence
  • The action was committed in self-defense
  • Law enforcement violated the law in their investigation

False Allegations of Child Abuse in a Child Custody Case

Unfortunately, some parents will accuse the other parent of child abuse in order to secure full custody of their children, going as far as to accuse the other parent of physical abuse, emotional assault, or even statutory sexual assault. 

If you have wrongfully been accused of child abuse by an ex-spouse or co-parent, contact an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. They can help ensure your name is cleared and that you have a chance at retaining full or shared custody of your child or children.

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Call the Phoenix Child Abuse Defense Attorneys at Belén Law Firm Right Away

When facing child abuse allegations, time is of the essence. If you or a loved one is facing allegations of child abuse in Arizona, contact a Phoenix child abuse lawyer at Belén Law Firm right away. We have experience defending clients against a variety of child-related crimes and can help defend against child abuse cases.

With Belén Law Firm by your side, you can rest assured that you will receive compassionate support and rigorous advocacy every step of the way. Our attorneys will conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the allegations, meticulously examine the evidence, and craft a strategic defense tailored to your unique case.

Call our Phoenix criminal defense law firm at (602) 715-0908 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with an attorney on our team today.

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