How do Las Vegas child abuse lawyers fight the charges?
A criminal defense attorney’s first step in fighting Nevada child abuse charges (NRS 200.508) is to conduct a thorough investigation of the entire case. This involves:
- Interviewing all witnesses who may have seen or heard the alleged physical abuse, emotional abuse, endangerment, medical care neglect, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation;
- Examining the accuser’s emails, voicemails, texts, etc., for motivations to lie;
- Gathering any other relevant evidence, such as video recordings of the alleged incident; and
- Gathering the child’s medical records, which may show that any physical injuries predated the incident or that the child had preexisting mental health issues.
Depending on the available evidence, the attorney then crafts a defense strategy. Five common defenses include:
- The incident was an accident. Causing physical or mental injury to a child is a crime only if the person intentionally did it or knowingly allowed maltreatment to happen.
- The defendant acted in lawful self-defense. Nevada law permits people to hit or even injure a child if it is reasonably necessary to deflect an attack from the child.
- The defendant’s actions were lawful corporal punishment. For instance, spanking a child to discipline him/her does not qualify as abuse of a child as long as it is not excessive.
- The co-parent falsely accused the defendant. This is particularly common during divorces in an effort to influence the outcome in a child custody case.
- The child’s injuries were self-inflicted. Sometimes angry children will actually harm themselves and levy false accusations against the defendant to get him/her into trouble. But an expert medical witness can often identify self-inflicted wounds.
Ultimately, the defense attorney will meet with prosecutors to present its case. If prosecutors see there is a reasonable doubt as to the defendant’s guilt, they may agree to reduce or drop the charges.
Can I stay out on bail during the case?
In most cases, Nevada judges allow defendants facing child abuse charges to be released on bail. But if the bail amount is unaffordable, the defense attorney can schedule a bail hearing to argue for a lower bail or own recognizance release (O.R.) where no payment is required at all.
Can a defense attorney get incriminating evidence thrown out?
Possibly. The Fourth Amendment protects everyone from unreasonable searches and seizures. If the police found evidence of child abuse through an unlawful search, a Nevada criminal defense attorney would then file a motion to suppress asking the judge to disregard the illegally-obtained evidence.
If the judge grants the motion to suppress, then the district attorney’s case against the defendant may be severely weakened. They may even drop the case for lack of proof.
Can the case get dismissed?
The primary goal for Nevada defense attorneys in every child abuse and neglect case is to get the charges dropped if possible. Defense attorneys try to show prosecutors that the state’s evidence is too insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that going to trial would result in an acquittal.
If prosecutors refuse to drop the case, they usually will offer a plea bargain instead. For instance, they may agree to lessen a felony charge down to a gross misdemeanor or a misdemeanor. Or they may agree to lessen gross misdemeanor charges down to a misdemeanor. In these cases, the defendant faces the choice of whether to accept the plea agreement or go to trial.
A defense attorney will go over with clients all the pros and cons of taking a plea deal versus risking a guilty verdict at trial. In some cases, it may make reasonable sense to plea to a lesser offense – especially if the state has incriminating evidence that cannot be suppressed. But if the defendant chooses trial, the defense attorney will use every available legal tactic – such as impeaching the accusers’ credibility – to sway the jury to return a “not guilty” verdict.
Do I have to go to court?
Child abuse defense attorneys can usually appear in court on behalf of a defendant without him/her having to appear as well. In some felony cases, judges may require defendants to personally appear during the arraignment.
In general, Nevada judges only require the defendant’s presence during the preliminary hearing and trial. And many child abuse cases get resolved before they even reach that point.
Is a Las Vegas child abuse attorney really necessary?
It is highly recommended that people accused of child abuse and neglect hire private criminal defense attorneys because the stakes are so high.
Not only do defendants face long prison or jail sentences and high fines. The county’s Department of Family Services could potentially get involved and take away child custody rights.
Furthermore, public defenders simply do not have the time or resources to wage the relentless defense necessary to try to avoid a child abuse conviction. But a skilled private attorney will manage the entire case so that the defendant can rest assured he/she is getting the best defense possible.
Facing child abuse allegations? Our experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers are on your side. We fight child abuse charges throughout Clark County, Washoe County, Nye County, and the state of Nevada. Our practice areas also include family law, so we can represent you in your CPS (Child Protective Services) case as well. We can consult with you over the phone or in our law offices in Henderson, Reno, or Las Vegas, NV.