Yuma Lawyer Provides Aggressive Defense to Child Abuse and Kidnapping Charges
Experienced Arizona attorney protects clients accused of crimes against children
Being charged with child abuse can be ruinous to your career, your personal life and your reputation, and a conviction can not only put you in prison time but also brand you for life. You need an experienced attorney who will aggressively defend you and seek all possible options to resolve such accusations positively in your behalf. At the Law Office of Phil Hineman, P.C. in Yuma, I have been practicing for more than 28 years and have experience with child abuse cases as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. I hold a Distinguished Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell® for professional achievement and ethical standards.
Penalties for child abuse and related crimes
Child abuse crimes are felonies in Arizona, punishable by maximum prison terms of two to 12.5 years depending on the specific offense and on whether it was intentional, reckless or negligent. Other consequences of a child abuse conviction may include:
- For certain offenses, a lifetime of registering as a sex offender
- Ineligibility for professional licenses, such as teaching, medicine, or real estate
- Loss of the right to vote or own firearms
- For parents, loss of custody or visitation rights
In addition, when child abuse and certain other offenses are committed against minors under 15 years of age, they are designated as “dangerous crimes against children,” carrying mandatory minimum sentences as high as 23 years and maximums of up to 37 years.
What crimes are considered child abuse?
Arizona Revised Statutes §8-201 defines child abuse as inflicting or allowing physical injury, impairment of bodily function or disfigurement upon a person under age 18. Physical injury includes physical conditions that imperil a child’s health or welfare, among them malnutrition, dehydration, disease and other ailments. Child abuse includes:
- sexual crimes such as incest, sexual abuse, sexual assault, molestation, sexual exploitation and child sex trafficking
- permitting a child to enter or remain in certain dangerous structures or vehicles
- unreasonable confinement of a child
- infliction of serious emotional damage
Physical violence or threats of violence against a child can also be prosecuted as assault and battery.
Kidnapping, which is also a separate crime, may be charged as child abuse if the youthful victim or a third person is placed in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury. A kidnapper who crosses state lines may face a federal prosecution with its own possible criminal penalties.
What the prosecution needs to prove
Child abuse need not be intentional to be criminal. Neglect and reckless endangerment are also grounds for prosecution. In such cases, the prosecutor must prove that physical or emotional harm resulted from a parent’s or caregiver’s failure to protect the child.
Intentional and knowing acts of abuse are often difficult to prove, especially when based on the child victim’s uncorroborated testimony. A child psychologist or other expert is sometimes called on to help evaluate and clarify the child’s account. However, most states, including Arizona, do not allow an expert witness to give an opinion about the child’s credibility.
When serious emotional damage is alleged, it must be diagnosed by a medical doctor or psychologist based on evidence of severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal or untoward aggressive behavior.
Providing a vigorous defense to child abuse charges
Whether child abuse is alleged to have been intentional, reckless or negligent, an experienced criminal defense attorney will force the prosecutor to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. This involves casting doubt on the testimony of witnesses, including the child, and revealing possible fabrications or exaggerations. Another element of a strong defense is positive proof of a loving and caring relationship that weakens the credibility of allegations of abuse. As a former prosecutor, I know how to spot holes in the state’s case and to rebut the evidence without seeming to attack the child victim.
Contact an experienced Arizona child abuse defense attorney
At the Law Office of Phil Hineman, P.C. in Yuma, I defend clients in child abuse cases, knowing full well the serious consequences of a conviction. If you are have been arrested or charged with such an offense, call me at 928-257-1155 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation.