What Does it Mean to be Charged With Child Abuse in Michigan? (Pt 2)

February 20, 2020 Abuse and Neglect Attorney

Welcome back and thanks for swinging by to wrap up this discussion about being charged with child abuse in Michigan, and what that looks like. We know it’s a tough subject and not one that any parent or caregiver enjoys, but understanding what you’re up against can go a long way towards providing peace of mind, and helping you make informed choices. As we mentioned in the previous article, “child abuse” charges cover pretty much all crimes against children unless your were driving drunk with a child in your car, or the crime was a sex crime. But now that you uderstand the ‘degrees’ of child abuse charges, let’s talk about the consequences.

A picture of a person's hands in handcuffs, reaching out as if looking to be freed.

How is child abuse charged and punished in Michigan?

  • First Degree Child Abuse: This charge is a felony, and anyone convicted of this crime faces up to life in prison.
  • Second Degree Child Abuse: This charge is also a felony, but is punishable by up to ten years in prison for a first offense, and up to twenty years in prison for second and any subsequent offenses.
  • Third Degree Child Abuse: This charge is a felony as well, and is punished with a sentence of up to two years in prison.
  • Fourth Degree Child Abuse: This charge is a misdemeanor, which might sound less serious, but the punishment is still up to a year in jail.

What’s the difference between being accused by the cops or CPS?

The Police:

This is often a tricky one for people. Because both cops and CPS workers represent government agencies, and they both show up in an “official” capacity and use words like “investigation” and “court hearing”, people tend to assume they’re the same. They’re not! If the cops investigate you for child abuse and find evidence of your guilt, they pass that on to the county prosecutor who files charges against you. This means you’re being charged with criminal charges. If convicted, you’ll end up behind bars. 

Child Protective Services:

CPS is different. A CPS worker investigates allegations of child abuse as well, but they have completely different rules and procedures, and if they decide you’re guilty (they need way less evidence than the cops to prove this!) they petition the court for the right to take your kids away. If CPS gets what they want, they can’t prosecute you or put you in jail, but they can take your kids away, and they can petition to have your parental rights terminated. And if they think you’re dangerous enough, they can turn their evidence over to the cops who will then work to make sure you’re charged with child abuse as well!

Don’t let child abuse charges break up your family!

Our skilled child abuse and neglect defense attorneys are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Midnight? No problem. Weekends? We’re here. Holidays? Yup, we’re available. We know that life happens at all hours of the day and night, and we’re here to help. So if you’ve been accused of neglectful parenting, or harming a child in some way, call us immediately at 866 766 5245. We’re available to help you sort out this difficult situation, and work to keep the police and CPS from breaking up your family.