It can be deeply unsettling that there are people in your child's life who are watchful at all times for signs of suspected abuse or neglect. These people are looking for bruises, dirty faces or clothing, or symptoms of emotional distress. Perhaps your child unintentionally mentions something troubling. When this happens, the person is required to call Children’s Protective Services (CPS) right away.
The state child protection law requires certain professionals to report suspected child abuse or neglect to CPS. If this does not occur, the mandated reporter faces severe consequences.
Mandated reporters include: physicians, social workers, dentists, nurses, teachers, psychologists, school counselors, law enforcement officers, school administrators, members of the clergy, and more. These individuals come in contact with children on a regular basis in the course of their professional duties.
These reporters are required to call CPS immediately when abuse or neglect is suspected. In addition, a written report must be submitted within 72 hours. The head of the reporter's organization must be made aware of the report as well. Many specific details are passed on to CPS in both the verbal and written report, including information that may help determine the cause and manner of the alleged abuse or neglect. The identity of the reporter is kept confidential and may be released only by consent of the person, judicial process, or to certain people listed under the law.
If a mandated reporter fails to report an instance of suspected child abuse or neglect, he or she is civilly liable for the damages that are directly linked to the failure to act.
In a case where a person knowingly fails to report, the result may be a misdemeanor charge with a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail, a fine up to $500, or both.
However, there is a civil and criminal immunity for those who file a report in good faith.
False reporting of child abuse in a custody case is never the answer. Those going through a messy divorce and tough custody battle may be tempted to stretch the truth to build their case. However, intentionally making a false report of child abuse or neglect against the other spouse can have serious consequences.
If the reported child abuse or neglect would not be a crime or would be a misdemeanor if true, then the reporter may be charged with a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of up to 93 days in jail, a fine up to $100.00, or both.
In addition, if the reported child abuse or neglect would be a felony if true, then the reporter may be charged with a felony. The penalty would be the lesser of either of the following: (a) The penalty for the falsely-reported abuse or neglect; or (b) A maximum prison sentence of 4 years, a fine up to $2,000.00, or both.
Contact Us Today
At Kronzek and Cronkright, PLLC, our top priority is keeping families together. We will aggressively defend your rights to achieve this goal. Our attorneys have a vast amount of experience working with child protection laws and CPS. We understand how to help parents navigate the system. We know how to fight for parents and we will work to keep your family together. Contact us today.