Child Abuse/Neglect Defense Lawyer in Columbus, OH
It is a serious crime in Ohio to harm a child or neglect their health and well-being in any way. Although child abuse and neglect can happen in many different ways, Ohio’s laws are clear about what constitutes child abuse and neglect. The state considers any act that causes a child to suffer physical, mental, or emotional injury or fails to meet their basic needs, such as food, water, clothing, shelter, and medicine, as abuse and/or neglect. These charges are nothing to take lightly, so we understand how it must feel if you are facing accusations of this nature.
We know it can be overwhelming to think of everything at stake in your criminal case. The reality may have already hit you that if you are convicted on criminal charges involving child abuse or neglect, the penalties will be harsh, and your life will not be the same. Child abuse and neglect cases are challenging for everyone involved, so having a criminal defense lawyer to help you navigate the situation can mean the difference between your name being cleared and serving a jail or prison sentence.
A pending child abuse charge needs to be met and dealt with effectively and promptly. Considering the negative impact a conviction could have on your social, professional, and financial life, fighting the charges is of utmost importance.
Despite the difficult days that may lie ahead, our criminal defense is here for you. We want you to know you still have a right to defend yourself against child abuse and/or neglect charges in Columbus, Ohio. A child abuse/neglect defense lawyer with Joslyn Law Firm can lead your case.
Our law firm’s child abuse, neglect, or endangerment lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, will protect your rights and act quickly to ensure you have due process throughout your case. Joslyn Law Firm has represented more than 20,000 criminal cases in Ohio, and we believe we can help you. We are ready to look at the details and circumstances of the legal matter before you and help you figure out your next steps.
Put Our Columbus, OH, Child Abuse Neglect Defense Lawyer to Work for You
When it comes to child abuse and neglect cases, we will review your situation and determine what defenses we can use against these allegations. There is no one defense that works for every case, and we will devote our resources and time to finding a defense best suited for your circumstances.
Our firm comprises the skills and experience of defense attorneys who have worked on both sides of criminal cases like yours. We know the strategies the prosecution will put into play to try to put you behind bars. When your case is in our hands, you will know where you stand and how having legal representation can help you.
We are widely recognized for our professional work and case results. Our firm is consistently rated a top criminal defense law firm in Ohio and nationally. Our list of honors and awards is extensive, but notable honors include:
- 10 Best Attorneys – Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys
- Top Criminal Lawyer by Columbus CEO Magazine
- Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers Association
- 2022 Martindale-Hubbell Client Champion Gold Award
Our criminal defense attorneys’ dedication and commitment to our clients inspire us to help people from all walks of life who want to protect themselves and their families. They know they must work through the tough circumstances that accompany criminal defense cases, and we are here to help them and you. Our former clients’ testimonials about our services attest to our commitment and our aim to treat all who come to us like family. We offer them a no-judgment zone as we educate them about their legal options.
Call Us Today for a Free Evaluation About a Columbus, OH, Child Abuse or Neglect Case
If you are under investigation for child abuse allegations in central Ohio, now is the time to speak with our firm. Our child abuse, neglect, and endangerment defense attorneys in Columbus to make certain that you are moving forward in this complex and difficult process in the correct manner. Our lawyer may be the difference when it comes to avoiding conviction and making certain that the future of your child continues to look bright.
Our legal team and staff serving the Columbus, OH, area are committed to protecting your individual rights on the road ahead. We dedicate ourselves to providing excellent client service throughout every aspect of your case. Call us today for a free evaluation: (614) 444-1900
Child Abuse and Neglect in Columbus Information Center
Overview of Child Abuse and Neglect in Columbus
According to Ohio laws, child abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual. The state also considers neglect and abandonment of a child to be a criminal act. In Ohio, a “child” is someone younger than 18 years of age or an individual who is younger than 21 years of age and has a mental or physical disability. Acts of child abuse constitute domestic violence.
How Ohio Law Defines an Abused Child
Ohio Revised Code § 2151.031 defines an “abused child” as any child who:
- Is the victim of sexual activity
- Is endangered
- Exhibits evidence of any physical or mental injury or death, inflicted other than by accidental means
- Suffers physical or mental injury that harms or threatens to harm the child’s health or welfare
In this definition, “endangered” can refer to Ohio Revised Code § 2919.22, which states that no person, who is the parent, guardian, custodian of a child under age 18, shall create a substantial risk to the health or safety of the child by violating a duty of care, protection, or support.
Additional Terms of Child Abuse in Columbus
Ohio Revised Code § 2919.22 goes on to say that no person shall do any of the following to a child:
- Abuse the child
- Torture or cruelly abuse the child
- Administer corporal punishment or other physical disciplinary measure, or physically restrain the child in a cruel manner or for a prolonged period, which punishment, discipline, or restraint is excessive under the circumstances and creates substantial risk for the child
- Entice, coerce, use, or allow a child to participate in material that is obscene or sexually oriented
- Operate a motor vehicle under the influence with a minor in the car
How Ohio Law Defines a Neglected Child
Ohio Revised Code § 2151.03 states that a “neglected child” includes any child:
- Who is abandoned by the child’s parents, guardian, or custodian
- Who lacks adequate parental care because of the faults of the parents, guardian, or custodian
- Whose parents, guardian, or custodian neglects the child or refuses to provide proper or necessary subsistence, education, medical or surgical care or treatment
Violence against one’s child constitutes domestic violence, regardless of whether the child resides with the accused offender. It is not the location of where the abuse occurs, but rather, the relationship between the accused abuser and the alleged victim that defines an act as one of domestic violence.
Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services’ (JFS) manual informs how public children’s services agencies in the state go about screening reports of alleged child neglect.
According to JFS, the screening’s purpose is to determine if an allegation meets the criteria that Child Protective Services uses to assess all incoming reports about a child’s safety and to determine what to do next.
Child Abuse vs. Discipline
Domestic violence laws protect children against domestic abuse. However, these laws are not intended to interfere with a parent’s right to discipline his or her child. The law in Ohio does not prohibit corporal punishment unless it poses a risk of death, serious injury, or substantial pain to the child.
Parents can engage in physical punishment, so long as such punishment is reasonable under the circumstances, and not so extreme as to cause death, serious injury, or substantial pain. In custody disputes, one parent may allege abuse claims against the other parent for enforcing corporal punishment. However, the prosecution must prove the punishment was unreasonable.
Children’s Services in Ohio May Get Involved in Child Abuse Cases
Often, another party will indirectly inject itself into the proceedings. Franklin County Children’s Services will often move to have custody of the children taken away from any parent who Children’s Services suspects is unfit. This may happen immediately pursuant to what is called an ex parte order.
“Ex parte” means that only one side gets its argument heard before the court makes its decision. This is unfair and an affront to our system of adversarial jurisprudence (each party should have its day in court and be allowed to make the arguments it wants to make). However, the courts will tolerate ex parte decisions because it is temporary—until a more formal hearing with all the parties participating can be held.
The Role of Children’s Services in a Child Abuse Case
A husband punches his wife in front of the kids. He threatens the kids with physical discipline if they tell anybody about what he did. The wife calls the police. The husband is arrested and taken off to jail. The wife decides she does not want to prosecute.
Children’s Services is concerned the situation is going to escalate in the future and that it is dangerous for the children to be around a guy like the husband unless he gets treatment for his anger management and drinking problems.
Getting no help from the wife, Children’s Services files for emergency custody of the children, and they are put into foster care for a week or so, until Grandma agrees to take them in until the matter can be sorted out.
Within a few weeks, a hearing will be held at which the husband and wife can show that the children should not be taken away from them. If the court finds that these arguments are sound, then the judge may return the children. If not, the judge may order the children to be kept where they are, and the parents get visitation with them as specified times and manners.
You Could Enlist the Help of an Attorney from Our Firm
The Columbus child abuse defense attorney you use to fight this portion of the case will likely not be your criminal defense attorney. It is better to have a good domestic relations attorney on standby for this kind of matter.
Penalties for Child Abuse and Neglect in Columbus
The penalties for child abuse range widely, but they tend to be quite severe with felony classification for basically all child abuse convictions. This means that, depending on the seriousness of the charge itself, you have the potential to receive a presumptive sentence of between six months (fifth-degree felony) to 10 years (first-degree felony). Fines will range from $2,500 for those in the fifth-degree felony to $20,000 for a first-degree felony.
Defenses Against Child Abuse and Neglect in Ohio
As your defense counsel, we may assert any of several defenses to protect you from a child abuse or neglect conviction.
It is not uncommon for a well-intentioned person to misinterpret what happens between a parent and their child. Sometimes, a person jumps to conclusions about a child’s injuries. Other times, a troubled spousal relationship prompts false accusations in the interest of favorable divorce or custody outcomes.
Still, in other situations, a child might be angry at their parent, so they make up a tale of abuse or neglect to retaliate. Our child abuse defense lawyers will look for evidence of any such scenario, and if we find it, we will use it in your defense.
Lack of Evidence
Ohio prosecutors are held to a high standard of evidence when arguing cases of child abuse or neglect. Our lawyers will hold the prosecution to this standard—insisting on sufficient proof that the child suffered abuse that caused physical or emotional injury or death.
If the prosecution cannot provide evidence that meets this muster—marks on the victim’s body, medical evidence, or witness testimony—we can assert the insufficient evidence defense.
Parental Right to Discipline
As Court News Ohio reports, Ohio’s laws permit the use of corporal punishment for disciplining a child so long as the means of discipline do not threaten the child with death or serious harm. Some people are accused of child abuse and have Child Protective Services called on them while appropriately disciplining their child.
Evidence in Ohio Child Abuse Neglect Cases
Each child abuse and neglect case’s outcome will largely rest on the facts and circumstances of the situation and parties involved. Our Columbus defense attorney must present evidence that proves you did not commit child abuse or neglect. We will help you gather the evidence you need to fight the allegations against you, which could include:
- Documents, such as receipts and billing statements, showing the child received food, clothing, shelter, and medical care; e.g., proof that the child’s basic needs were met
- Statements from family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers about your relationship and interactions with the child
- Witness statements from people present during the alleged abuse or neglect who can attest to what happened or can vouch for the defendant’s actions or character
- Medical records proving how an injury occurred if the child got hurt during an incident
- Police reports that explain what took place and share the officer’s observations
- The social worker’s report detailing the outcome of an investigation into the incident(s) and the action(s) taken
- A psychologist or therapist’s statements that document observations of how the child and defendant interact with each other and/or explain the child’s mental and emotional state
- Photos and video footage of the incident or another related event
- Cell phone evidence (text messages, photos, videos) and relevant social media posts
- Personal notes in a journal that documents events and other details
Additional Resources for Child Abuse and Neglect in Ohio
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Office of Families and Children, administers and oversees programs related to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Visit this site to learn about the department’s services for abused and neglected children.
This agency is centered on child and family welfare. Visit the site to learn about permanent, stable living options for abused, neglected, and abandoned children and programs that aim to strengthen the family unit.
The site also offers a useful Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page that addresses issues like how to handle a misbehaving child, how to report abuse or neglect, and what types of foster care and adoption services CCS offers.
The Franklin County Law Library presents this helpful page dedicated to informing visitors about child welfare law in Ohio. Specifically, this page addresses the adjudicatory hearing, which is the fact-finding stage in Ohio juvenile cases.
Take a look to learn all the corresponding rules and procedures established in Ohio law, including those that speak to hearing deadlines, right to counsel, procedures for hearings, witnesses, rules of evidence, and records.
This nonprofit organization is now affiliated with Talbert House. COCA has the important mission of delivering educational and public awareness programs geared toward putting an end to child abuse.
The group provides a 24-hour Parent Hotline and offers prevention programs staffed by trained professionals and volunteers. Having identified a connection between bullying, child abuse, and the “cycle of violence,” the group also offers programs related to bully prevention and awareness.
The CDC devotes this page to illuminating facts about child abuse and neglect. The site defines the various terms child welfare agencies and courts use when discussing this issue.
It also speaks to the scope of the problem and the consequences of abuse and neglect. It outlines suggestions for preventing child abuse and neglect and provides links to informative data sources and publications on the topic.
Anyone in Ohio who suspects that a child is being abused or neglected can call 855-O-H-CHILD. The number rings an automated telephone directory that connects callers directly to a child welfare or law enforcement office in their county. Callers can make the report anonymously to the directory, which the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services set up.
This website resource gives callers tips on what information they can include in their report, such as the name and address of the child they believe is being abused or neglected. It also explains what happens after a person makes a report and gives a list of people who Ohio law requires to report any suspected abuse. This list includes childcare workers, clergy, coroners, daycare personnel, foster parents, and medical and mental health professionals.
Child Abuse and Neglect Cases in Ohio
In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court decided if the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution barred an Ohio preschool teacher’s testimony about statements a child made to her about his injuries. The clause applies to all criminal prosecutions and affects a criminal defendant’s rights, including the right to be confronted with all witnesses against them.
Ohio defendant Darius Clark appealed his conviction on charges of felonious assault, endangering children, and domestic violence against his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter. At Clark’s trial, the state submitted remarks from the 3-year-old’s preschool teacher as evidence that Clark abused his girlfriend’s son.
Under Ohio’s mandatory reporter laws, the teacher was obligated to report her suspicion of abuse based on what the 3-year-old boy told her. She called a child protective services hotline after the child reportedly told her that his mother’s boyfriend injured him when the teacher asked about his injuries.
The child did not testify at Clark’s trial, but the teacher’s testimony was used to help convict his father. The trial court rejected Clark’s motion to dismiss the teacher’s statements under the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause. The Ohio Supreme Court approved reversing Clark’s conviction on the grounds of the Confrontation Clause.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision, saying the teacher’s statement did not violate the Confrontation Clause. It said that it based part of its decision on the fact that the child’s statements were not testimonial or shared to create an out-of-court substitute for trial testimony. The child did not make them with the intention to create evidence that could be used to prosecute Clark.
Part of the Court’s opinion reads, “Mandatory reporting obligations do not convert a conversation between a concerned teacher and her student into a law enforcement mission aimed at gathering evidence for prosecution.”
News About Child Abuse and Neglect in Ohio
Aug. 15, 2022
Authorities arrested Victoria Hampton, 26, after a 6-year-old child she was babysitting was seen drinking from a bottle of Smirnoff vodka at a Butler County, OH, gas station, WLWT 5 reports. Investigators allege that Hampton gave the child alcohol after she bought it at the gas station.
The child’s mother, Kasey Hill, told the news station that she could not believe the incident happened after viewing a store recording of it. Hill told the news station that she left the child with his father and grandmother. She also said she did not know that someone else was put in charge of watching him.
Store employees reported Hampton to authorities and wanted them to issue her a no trespassing order after she left the store. When authorities arrived at her home, they found the child drinking another alcoholic beverage. Hampton was then arrested and charged with child endangering and contributing to the delinquency of a child.
Aug. 5, 2022
Authorities have charged a 12-year-old’s mother and stepfather with child abuse, saying they tied his wrists behind his back with shoestrings and left him bound for nearly 10 hours in a hotel room where the family lived. Tabetha Sosnowicz, 38, and Jason Sosnowicz Sr., 42, of Northwood are facing felony charges of endangering children – administering corporal punishment.
The WTVG/Gray News report goes on to say the boy’s wrists were tied to his ankles beside a bed in the room. Both parents allegedly told police they regularly tied the boy up because “he gets into things,” including candy while they are asleep. Under court order, the couple cannot have any contact with the child as Wood County Children Services investigates the matter.
May 27, 2021
Lima, Ohio, mother, Cheyenne Hooper, took the stand at her trial where she has been charged with felonious assault and endangering a child, according to Lima News. The case centers on Hooper’s 7-month-old daughter, Lyla, who suffered head trauma, neck injuries, a brain shift, retinal hemorrhages, and severe bleeding of the brain. Hooper claims the injuries happened when her infant fell out of bed. Prosecutors allege that the injuries stemmed from the mother assaulting her child.
A child abuse pediatrician had testified that the infant’s injuries were not consistent with injuries from a fall, as Hooper suggested. However, defense counsel brought their own witness, Dr. Daniel Adler, a pediatric neurologist. Adler testified that he believed the baby had “held her breath and passed out.” He further persisted that the infant’s injuries could be accidental, as she suffers from infant torticollis—a condition that affects the neck muscles.
May 19, 2021
NBC4 reports that a woman from Athens, Ohio, pleaded not guilty to second-degree felony charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and third-degree felony charges of endangering children. The woman, Deborah Bellar, was given a $1 million bond in Athens County Common Pleas Court.
Bellar’s husband, Robert, and two sons, Josiah and Jonathan, have also been charged. The case arose after a missing child posted on Facebook under an alias and accused the Bellar family of ongoing sexual assault between 2008 and 2016.
May 19, 20201
Athletes who claim to have been assaulted by Ohio State’s athletic doctor, Richard Strauss, are working to prevent other young people from enduring similar abuses, reports The Columbus Dispatch. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (MCMEC) has formed a partnership with former University of Michigan and Ohio State University athletes who say their team doctors sexually abused them.
The partnership aims to raise awareness about sexual abuse by athletic team doctors and educate young athletes about the legal process that will help them seek justice if they have been sexually abused in this manner.
May 6, 2021
ABC6 reports that Franklin County Juvenile Court has released new domestic documents about Ma’Khia Bryant, the 16-year-old girl who was shot and killed in April 2021 by a Columbus police officer as she held a knife.
According to the newly released case file, the teen suffered from ongoing abuse and threats of death at the hands of her mother, Paula Bryant. The file also contained Franklin County Children’s Services’ motion for permanent custody to enable Ma’Khia’s adoption by another family.
May 6, 2021
A babysitter in Columbus, Ohio, faces misdemeanor charges of endangering a child and abuse after a toddler’s parents caught the babysitter slapping the child on camera, reports NBC4. Parents suspected a problem when their child would cover her face any time the parents tried to pick her up.
They installed a hidden camera, and two days later, it recorded an incident wherein the toddler awoke from her nap, tried to peek at what her sitter was looking at on her phone.
The sitter slapped the toddler in the face. A few minutes later, the sitter slapped the 20-month-old again, repeatedly. The child’s parents are unhappy with the charges. They feel that the behavior had likely been ongoing, given the toddler’s conditioned response to cover her face.
FAQs About Child Abuse and Neglect in Ohio
Q. What Constitutes Neglect of a Child in Ohio?
According to Ohio law, a parent, guardian, or custodian who fails to provide the necessary subsistence, education, or medical care, or who otherwise fails to care for the child’s health, morals, or well-being is guilty of child neglect.
Q. What Is Considered Child Abuse in Ohio?
Ohio courts see child abuse as an act of commission. This offense can manifest in three ways: physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. With physical abuse, the parent or caretaker is accused of purposefully injuring a child.
Sexual abuse could be rape but could also take place in cases of fondling or touching or involving the child in pornography. Emotional abuse consists of destructive maltreatment, including withholding love from a child, or insulting, criticizing, or rejecting them.
Q. What Is the Punishment for Child Abuse in Ohio?
Punishment for child abuse and neglect varies widely, depending on the circumstances of a case. A fifth-degree felony charge could mean a presumptive sentence of six months. A first-degree felony conviction could result in a 10-year sentence.
Furthermore, you could pay a fine of between $2,500 and $20,000 for a conviction of fifth-degree felony child abuse or first-degree felony child abuse, respectively.
Q. Is it Legal to Discipline a Child in Ohio?
Yes, Ohio law permits parents to discipline their children, provided the manner of discipline does not pose a risk of death, substantial pain, or serious injury. The punishment must be reasonable given the circumstances.
Q. What Are the Legal Defenses Against a Child Abuse and Neglect Charge in Ohio?
Depending on the circumstances of your case, any of several defenses can be raised to challenge a conviction for child abuse and neglect. They include false claim, lack of evidence, and the parental right to discipline.
Q: Who Can Report Child Abuse and Neglect in Ohio?
Ohio law establishes who must report all suspicions of child abuse or neglect. They are called “mandatory reporters” and can include attorneys, clergy, healthcare professionals, coroners, daycare center administrators or employees, schoolteachers and other school staff, peace officers, therapists, foster caregivers, and many others. An informational brief prepared by the staff of the Ohio Legislative Service Commission (LSC) goes into more depth about who the law designates to report known or suspect child abuse or neglect.
Mandatory reporters must act promptly when filing a report either by telephone or in person, and they must follow up with a written report. They also must file their report to the public children services agency (PCSA) or a peace officer in the county where the child lives or where the alleged abuse or neglect took place. If they have photographic evidence of trauma that’s visible on a child or any of the results of any examinations or tests, they can submit them as evidence.
Of course, anyone outside of mandatory reporters can report their suspicions of child abuse or neglect.
Q: Are Reports of Child Abuse or Neglect Confidential?
Yes. Generally, if a person reports child abuse or neglect, the report remains confidential. The name of the person who made the report and any personal information about them cannot be released in the report or serve as evidence in any civil action or proceeding brought against them.
If someone files a civil action alleging a mandatory reporter did not report known or suspected child abuse or neglect, the person could use reports of other incidents. However, any identifying information in those other reports must be redacted. A report can be admitted into evident in criminal proceedings.
Columbus Child Abuse and Neglect Lawyer
An arrest for child abuse is something no parent or guardian wants to deal with. The inherent “pro-prosecution” mentality of the state always looks out for the welfare of its dependent citizens, for better or worse. A Joslyn Law Firm defense attorney can help you pursue favorable outcomes, including case dismissals and not guilty verdicts, which allow you to continue your life with a clear record.
Our law firm proudly represents individuals dealing with alleged criminal charges in central Ohio, including but not limited to Columbus, Sunbury, Dublin, Reynoldsburg, Worthington, Groveport, Plain City, Heath, Granville, Baltimore, Bremen, South Bloomfield, New Holland, and Commercial Point.
As an aggressive and trial-proven criminal defense attorney, Brian Joslyn is well-positioned to provide effective legal counsel throughout the entire process. If you would like the advice and representation of a qualified and dedicated child abuse defense attorney, call Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a free consultation.