Michigan - Child Abuse Cases - Criminal Law Basic Information
Allegations in Michigan involving child abuse can be handled criminally, in family court, outside of court by child protective services, or a combination of any of these options. This legal guide will only discuss the criminal aspects of child abuse allegations. In Michigan an individual can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony charge of child abuse depending upon the circumstances. The individual charged with such allegation(s) can retain a criminal defense attorney to contest the charge(s), or request a court appointed attorney if he or she is indigent. For misdemeanor charge(s) (maximum punishment 1 year in jail or less) a Defendant has the right to a trial in front of a Judge or a Jury of 6 people to contest the charge(s). The prosecution has the sole burden of proving the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. The Defense can participate in the jury selection process (if applicable), provide an opening statement, call witnesses, cross examine witnesses, offer exhibits, give a closing argument. The Defendant can elect to testify or remain silent. Remaining silent is not supposed to be construed against the Defendant in any way. For felony charge(s) (maximum punishment over 1 year in jail) a Defendant at the District Court has a right to a preliminary examination to challenge if probable cause exists. At Circuit Court, the Defendant has the right to a trial in front of a Judge or a Jury of 12 people to contest the charge(s). The prosecution has the sole burden of proving the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. The Defense can participate in the jury selection process (if applicable), provide an opening statement, call witnesses, cross examine witnesses, offer exhibits, give a closing argument. The Defendant can elect to testify or remain silent. Remaining silent is not supposed to be construed against the Defendant in any way. The common defenses for these type of charges often include reasonable parental discipline, reasonable doubt that a particular person committed the neglect or abuse in question, the complaining witness is not being truthful about what occurred, or the opinion of the expert is not credible or flawed in their assessment of an injury. Sometimes the attorney needs to file motions before the Judge prior to a trial to dismiss charges, suppress evidence, exclude evidence from consideration at trial, etc. It is neccesary in some cases to retain or consult with an expert in order to rebut the testimony offered by the prosecutor's expert. A medical expert can testify to the likelihood that the injury was intentional based upon the reported history of the allegation, the type of injury, the age and developmental stage of the child, and the location of the injury. For sentencing, it is often necessary for a sentencing memorandum to be prepared and submitted to provide more positive details concerning the Defendant. Judges are often troubled by these types of allegations, and effective representation is required to receive a fair result. An effective representation concerning criminal charge(s) can make a big difference on how a companion neglect or abuse case is handled. A good result in a criminal case can sometimes lead to a favorable amendment or dismissal of the neglect or abuse family court case. A bad result, such as substantial incarceration, can lead to harsher consequences of a pending neglect or abuse family court case. Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your family. There are many lawyers who claim to do more than what they are able - just as there are many surgeons in the world that are no better than butchers. Do not settle for a legal hack job. Practicing law is a skill that develops over time with experience, commitment, dedication, and God given talent. There are no amateur attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC – only professionals that are guided by the humanity in the individuals we serve, and the drive not to settle for what is easy over what is right.