Birmingham Defense: Child Abuse Cases Not Always Black and White

Tags: Criminal Defense

A 21-year-old Alabama man is facing charges of aggravated child abuse after he reportedly beat a child so severely that the child had to be taken to the  hospital.


Our Birmingham criminal defense lawyers know that when it comes to charges of child abuse, there is often a fine line between this and discipline. All too often, child protection authorities, police officers and hospital officials are eager to file charges in cases like these, automatically making the defendant out to be a villain.

But child abuse cases are often not so simple.

The problem  is that these officials have been burned in the past when they have overlooked cases of real child abuse and failed to remove children from parents or guardians who ended up later seriously hurting or killing a child. The fact is, those cases are extremely rare. But the public attention they get is such that it puts a blinding spotlight on the agencies responsible for oversight.

So anytime there is the slightest allegation of abuse, however unfounded, these officials are quick to take action. Ultimately, they are hoping to avoid liability for themselves.

Unfortunately, this often does more harm than good, as innocent people end up being accused of serious felonies. Not only is child custody and/or visitation on the line, but so is their freedom.

It’s a terrifying proposition for which many parents find themselves unprepared. And, once involved, many find it nearly impossible to rid themselves of the involvement of child welfare agencies.

That’s why you need a skilled attorney who is dedicated to an in-depth, thorough review of the facts of your case. There have been situations where parents were charged with the death of their infant when, in fact, the child had passed away from SIDS.

There have also been situations where teenagers, incensed at the rules their parents impose, may make outrageous and untrue allegations. Sometimes, children have medical conditions that may manifest themselves in a way that may appear to be abuse, but in fact is something entirely different. The same can happen if a child somehow injures himself in a fall or accident, but it is misconstrued by hospital officials as something more sinister.

The consequences of such a charge are serious. Alabama Code 26-15-3.1 addresses aggravated child abuse. It’s defined as when someone commits child abuse on more than one occasion or, in the course of doing so, violates a court order or injunction. Additionally, a person might face aggravated child abuse charges if the child has suffered severe or serious injury.

Aggravated child abuse is a Class B felony offense, which means it’s punishable by a minimum of two years and a maximum of 20 years, as well as a maximum $10,000 fine.

In this case, we don’t know exactly what the relationship was between the defendant and the child. But we do know that the child was brought into the hospital with head injuries. Hospital staff, which are obligated to report even suspected cases of abuse to police, called authorities to report the child’s injuries. Soon after, the defendant was arrested.

News reports give no further detail.

Additional Resources:

Mobile police: 21-year-old arrested after child treated for “serious” injuries, Nov. 21, 2012, By Theresa Seiger,

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