Pennsylvania law provides that child abuse can be committed by a parent, boyfriend or girlfriend of a parent, any other individual living in the same home as the child, or any other person responsible for the welfare of the child. If you are suspected of child abuse or endangering the welfare of a child, then never talk to a law enforcement officer or other investigator about the allegations until after you have contacted a criminal defense attorney.
Philadelphia Child Abuse Lawyer
The attorneys at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC are experienced in representing clients charged with child abuse or child endangerment throughout the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area and the surrounding areas of Bucks County, Chester County, Montgomery County and Delaware County, PA. Call us at (215) 665-1695 to discuss your case for a free and confidential consultation.
Pennsylvania Child Abuse Information Center
- What actions constitute this type of criminal offense?
- What is required when reporting this crime?
- What happens during an investigation?
- Where can I learn more about this subject?
Under Pennsylvania law, several different types of child abuse can occur when certain types of acts are committed on a child under the age of 18 years old.
- Any recent act or failure to act which causes non-accidental serious physical injury. Serious physical injury is defined as an injury that causes either:
- significant impairs the child’s physical functioning, either temporarily or permanently; or
- severe pain.
- An act or failure to act which causes non-accidental serious mental injury, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation;
- Any recent act, failure to act or series of such acts or failures to act creating an imminent risk of serious physical injury, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation;
- Serious physical neglect which:
- endangers a child’s life;
- endangers a child's development; or
- impairs a child’s functioning.
Certain types of professionals, called mandated reporters or MRs, working in Pennsylvania are required to report suspected child abuse. Reports by these professionals help officials prevent and investigate these serious crimes.
The reporting requirement is triggered when the professional comes into contact with a child and it is suspected that the child has been the victim of an act of child abuse. The report of suspected child abuse must be made to a law enforcement officer or to ChildLine. Professionals that qualify as Mandated Reporters include:
- child care providers;
- police officers or law enforcement officers;
- dentists; or
The law in Pennsylvania also provides for a penalty for the failure to report child abuse including:
- a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree (for a MR other than a school employee); or
- a summary offense for a school employee to fail to report child abuse.
After a report of child abuse is received by ChildLine, the case can be referred for investigation to a county C&Y agency. Not all accusations result in a referral. If the referral does occur, the county C&Y agency must begin the investigation and make contact with the child within 24 hours. In some cases, the child will be taken into emergency protective custody.
In some cases, a referral for child abuse will be made to the local law enforcement agency which will conduct a concurrent investigation for criminal acts against a child when the suspect falls outside the definition of perpetrator set out in the Child Protective Services Law.
When a child abuse referral is made to a county C&Y agency, it is expected to conclude the investigation within thirty days. The determinations made by the county C&Y agency will be that the allegations are founded, indicated, or unfounded.
ChildLine - ChildLine operates the Statewide Central Registry which is a clearing house for information on substantiated reports of child abuse. Childline is a unit of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) operates Pennsylvania's toll-free child abuse hotline (1-800-932-0313). This unit takes reports of suspected child abuse. After the report is made, it must decide whether a child abuse investigation should be conducted. The referrals for investigation are sent to the General Protective Services (GPS) and to the county children and youth (C&Y) agency. “The Annual Child Abuse Report” is an annual publication of ChildLine reporting data related to child abuse to the public.
Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) - a private or public agency which assists “county agencies, investigative teams and law enforcement by providing services, including forensic interviews, medical evaluations, therapeutic interventions, victim support and advocacy, team case reviews and a system for case tracking.” CACs exist “for the primary purpose of providing a child-focused, facility-based program dedicated to coordinating a formalized multidisciplinary response to suspected child abuse.”
Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney for Child Abuse Crimes
If you are accused of child endangerment or child abuse, contact a criminal defense attorney at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC. Our attorneys are experienced in representing men and women charged with child support throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding areas of Bucks County, Chester County, Montgomery County and Delaware County, PA.