Child Abuse and Neglect Attorney in West Haven, Connecticut

In Connecticut, child neglect and abuse are serious legal issues.  Abuse or neglect can lead to criminal charges which expose a person to fines, jail, probation, protective orders, and various collateral consequences. Abuse or neglect also commonly leads to DCF (Department of Children and Families) involvement, which can include substantiations and registry placement, safety plans, and court action that can jeopardize your parental rights. If you are being investigated by the police or DCF concerning possible child abuse or neglect, it is crucial that you hire an aggressive and skilled Connecticut criminal defense attorney to build your strategy.

At DeMatteo Legal Solutions, I have the resources and experience to guide and represent individuals facing abuse, neglect, and other charges involving Child Protective Services. As your legal counsel, I will investigate all the surrounding facts of your unique situation and strategize an effective defense to maximize your prospects of a favorable outcome in your case. My firm proudly represents clients in West Haven and anywhere else in Connecticut, including Milford, Meriden, Waterbury, Derby, Bridgeport, Fairfield, Norwalk, Danbury, New Britain, Bristol, Meriden, and New Haven.

Child Abuse and Neglect

According to Connecticut General Statutes Section 17a-101(b), an abused child is one who;

  • Has had physical injury inflicted on him other than by accidental means.
  • Has injuries which are at variance with the history given of them,
  • Is in a condition resulting from maltreatment, including malnutrition, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, deprivation of necessities, emotional maltreatment, or cruel punishment.

A neglected child is one who, for reasons other than being impoverished;

  • Has been abandoned
  • Is being denied proper care and attention—physically, educationally, emotionally, or morally
  • Is being permitted to live under conditions, circumstances, or associations injurious to the well-being of the child

Those definitions are statuses. DCF may initiate a case in juvenile court to seek orders on a family. The parents and guardians are named as respondents in any petition, regardless of whether either or both parents were involved in the alleged activity. Although Connecticut does not have criminal statutes titled "abuse" or "neglect," many criminal statutes are used to prosecute harms against children including Risk of Injury, Assault, Sexual Assault, Reckless Endangerment, Disorderly Conduct, and more. 

As your criminal defense or DCF defense attorney, I will work aggressively to protect your legal rights and refute the allegations against you with factual evidence.

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Child Protection Actions in Connecticut

In the state of Connecticut, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is responsible for investigating child abuse and neglect accusations. DCF and local police departments are required to inform each other upon receiving child abuse or neglect reports. It may come in the form of a referral or tip through its hotline.

When DCF Receives an Abuse or Neglect Claim

Upon receiving a tip or information from the local police department, DCF will start an investigation. An investigative social worker will be sent to the child’s home or school. The social worker’s aim is to determine whether the child was abused or neglected and identify the responsible party. The DCF investigation is usually lengthy, thorough, and potentially invasive. Hiring a child abuse defense attorney is crucial to help protect the child’s legal rights and parental privileges.

What to Expect If DCF Determines that Neglect or Abuse Has Occurred

If DCF has reasons to believe that a child is in physical danger, the agency may seek to remove the child from the home or take custody of your child. DCF can take an administrative hold on a child for no longer than 96 hours. A court will grant a motion for temporary custody if the DCF can show that:

  • The child is in immediate physical danger from surroundings and due to the surroundings
  • The child’s safety is endangered
  • Prompt removal from the home or family is necessary to ensure the child’s safety 
  • Allowing the child to continue living in the home is not in the child’s best interests

Getting Your Child Back

If DCF files a Motion for Temporary Custody in court, you can request a hearing. During the hearing, the DCF will present its evidence and prove that there was probable cause. The judge will review the available evidence, listen to your attorney’s defense, and make a decision. The court may:

  • Order the child to be returned to the parents
  • Order protective supervision
  • Order transfer of custody or guardianship
  • Order the child to be given to DCF for a period of time
  • Dismiss the petition.

Your attorney can cross-examine the DCF investigator, dispute the allegations against you with substantial evidence, and ultimately improve your chances of a successful outcome.

Possible Criminal Penalties

In Connecticut, Risk of Injury to a Minor is a serious offense. It is illegal for anyone to willfully place a child under 16 years of age in a situation such that their life or limb is endangered, their health is likely to be injured, or their morals are likely to be impaired. The offense is punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years, a maximum fines of up to $15,000, or both. Risk of Injury is a C-level felony and sometimes a B felony.

Work With a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

According to statistics from the Administration for Children and Families, there were 8,042 total child maltreatment victims in Connecticut in 2019. If you are facing abuse or neglect allegations, you could be facing a lengthy prison sentence, massive fines, loss of custody rights, a protective order, and possible deportation. Therefore, retaining a skilled criminal defense attorney is imperative to protect your rights and help develop the right legal defense strategy that fits your unique circumstances.

At DeMatteo Legal Solutions, I’m committed to offering comprehensive legal guidance and vigorous representation to clients accused of domestic violence, including child abuse and neglect. As your attorney, I will review and investigate every last detail of your situation, explore your possible legal defenses, and determine the best defense for your case. Using my extensive experience, I will help you navigate the Connecticut criminal justice system, fight zealously on your side to defend your rights, and seek to ensure fair treatment.

Child Protective Services Attorney Serving West Haven, Connecticut

Facing neglect, and abuse allegations can be scary. That is why you should never face them alone. Contact my firm—DeMatteo Legal Solutions—today to schedule a simple case evaluation. I can offer you the experienced legal counsel, reliable advocacy, and strong representation. I proudly serve clients in West Haven, Milford, Meriden, Waterbury, Derby, Bridgeport, Fairfield, Norwalk, Danbury, New Britain, Bristol, Meriden and New Haven and the rest of Connecticut.