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Michigan Child Abuse Defense Attorney

What are the Child Abuse Laws in Michigan?

Child abuse laws in the state of Michigan are defined by degrees, with the first-degree child abuse being the most serious charge which can result in life in prison.

If a defendant is facing the charge of first-degree child abuse in Michigan, it is the burden of the prosecutor to prove each of the following conditions without a reasonable doubt:

To begin, the prosecutor must prove the defendant is the parent or guardian of the child that has been allegedly abused; or, the defendant was in custody of the child at the time the abuse occurred, regardless of the duration of time the child was cared for by, in custody of, or under the authority of that person.

Next, is the prosecutor’s duty to prove that the defendant knowingly or intentionally harmed the child in a physical and serious manner.

Serious physical home means any physical injury to a child that seriously impairs the child’s health or physical well-being. This includes, but is not limited to brain damage, a skull or bone fracture, subdural hemorrhage or hematoma, dislocation, sprain, internal injury, poisoning, burn or scald, or a severe cut.

Serious mental harm means an injury to a child’s mental condition to the point that a visible sign of impairment in the child’s judgment or behavior is revealed.

Lastly, the prosecutor must prove that the child was under the age of 18 when the abuse occurred.

Contact Our Michigan Domestic Violence Attorney

Prain Law, PLLC, is led by a skilled and experienced Michigan domestic violence lawyer who is committed to fighting for your rights following an allegation of child abuse. No matter the nature of your particular case, we are enthusiastic about delivering you the legal counsel, care, and representation you deserve most at this time.

If you would like to speak to a member of our team, please don’t hesitate to contact us at your earliest convenience by calling (248) 731-4543.

Child Abuse Laws

DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE! Speak only with a Michigan Child Abuse Defense Attorney - and do it right away. Nothing can hurt your case more than your own words. Even if you are denying the First Degree Child Abuse charges, Police will twist your words and find some way to use what you said to convict you.

First-Degree Child Abuse

First Degree Child Abuse charges are among the most serious criminal charges a person can face. A person convicted of First Degree Child Abuse in Michigan, you may very likely go to State Prison. The maximum time is “LIFE or any term of years.” A conviction for First Degree Child Abuse also means being placed on the Michigan Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry as a "perpetrator."

Second-Degree Child Abuse

Second Degree Child Abuse charges are extremely serious criminal charges and should not be taken lightly. If you are convicted of Second Degree Child Abuse, you will almost certainly receive a Jail sentence and may likely go to State Prison. The maximum Prison sentence for 2nd Degree Child Abuse is 10 years for a first offender, and 20 years for a repeat offender. Second Degree Child Abuse also means you'll be listed on the Michigan Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry and identified as "perpetrator" or "perp."

Third-Degree Child Abuse

Third Degree Child Abuse charges are extremely serious criminal charges and should not be taken lightly. If you are convicted of Third Degree Child Abuse, you will almost certainly receive a Jail sentence and may likely go to State Prison. The maximum Prison sentence for 3rd Degree Child Abuse is not more than 2 years. Additionally, you will also be listed in the Michigan Child Abuse and neglect Central Registry where you will be marked as a “perpetrator.”

Fourth-Degree Child Abuse

Fourth Degree Child Abuse is a misdemeanor charge, but should not be taken lightly. If you are convicted of Fourth Degree Child Abuse, the maximum Prison sentence for Fourth Degree Child Abuse is a misdemeanor punishable by not more than 1 year. This also includes being listed in the Michigan Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry and identified as "perpetrator" or "perp."

What Must Be Proven for You to Be Convicted of Child Abuse in Michigan?

This is because reading the statute alone does not give the full picture of the law as it would be read to a Jury deciding your case if you went to Trial. To get the full picture, we must look at Third Degree Child Abuse Jury Instruction. Here are the theories of Third Degree Child Abuse:

The Defendant either knowingly or intentionally caused harm to the child.

The Defendant either knowingly or intentionally committed an act that under the circumstances posed an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to the child and the act resulted in physical harm.

Does the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) Apply to Child Abuse?

No, those who are convicted of Child Abuse, First Degree are not eligible for HYTA.

The Michigan Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, MCL 762.11, normally allows a person accused of a crime between age 17 and 21 (such as a young babysitter) at the time of the offense to plead guilty without being "convicted" and having a record. But because the maximum penalty for First Degree Child Abuse is LIFE, Child Abuse, First Degree charges are not HYTA eligible. These charges must be aggressively defended by a Michigan Child Abuse Defense Attorney. For other degrees of child abuse charges, make sure you discuss with an attorney!

Defense of Reasonable Response to an Act of Domestic Violence to Child Abuse Charges

There is yet another defense that can be raised to these charges (in addition to Self-Defense, which is a complete defense to all crimes). There is a however, unlike the defense of "Parental Discipline," the burden is on the defendant to prove this defense by a preponderance of the evidence. This means the evidence must persuade the Jury that it is more likely than not that the conduct was a reasonable response to an act of domestic violence, given all of the facts and circumstances known to the accused at the time. If the accused proves this by a preponderance of the evidence, they are entitled to a verdict of NOT GUILTY of Child Abuse.

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