What defenses are available to a person accused of child abuse in Alabama?
An accused's defense depends on the specific facts and circumstances of there case but there are some defenses that frequently occur in cases of this nature.
One common defense is that the crime never occurred. For example, sometimes children trip fall and get injured in a variety of ways that have nothing to do with child abuse. Perhaps the child has taken a tumble and they have divorced parents. One parent finds out during a visitation that the child has injuries and reports the case to the police because they believe child abuse was committed by their spouse or x spouse. Of course, the claim may be completely untrue.
There are medical conditions that can lead to false allegations of child abuse. For example, there are medical conditions that cause children to have easy bone fractures others that create skin lesions that appear to be burns or bruises. Drs. will report suspected child abuse but a misdiagnosis of these physical medical conditions can result in a improper charge of child abuse.
Other times, particularly in family situations involving a divorce or custody issue one parent may raise the issue as a weapon to gain custody and they may improperly influence the child to the point that the child may actually believe that they have been abused yet nothing happened. Lawyers and counseling professionals talk about parental alienation syndrome which may result in a child turning against a parent and believing that the parent is an abuser when they are not.
Some defenses do not involve a person denying the child abuse occurred. This may mean that the accused simply denies they are the responsible party. The case like this might hinge upon what evidence there is that the abuse occurred by the individual charged.
Other defenses mean that the accused person admits to disciplining the child but asserts that it was reasonable discipline and that the level of physical discipline involved is not child abuse. For example, Alabama has a parental and custodial discipline statute that does allow a parent or guardian to use a reasonable measure of force and disciplining a child. Of course, a case like these hinges upon what is determined to be reasonable. If the case is tried before a jury, it is the jury that makes that decision and if it's right in front of the judge a judge alone will decide whether or not the actions were reasonable.
Child abuse cases are emotional and dangerous to the parties involved. Whether an accused person is guilty or innocent there will be a significant amount of stress in going through the gauntlet of our court system. If you've been accused of child abuse, seek the immediate assistance of counsel.