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Many divorce and family law cases involve allegations of child abuse or neglect. While people can be quick to jump the gun and assume that the person accused is guilty, often, these are baseless allegations levied by a spiteful spouse trying to hurt you and your relationship with your children because they are angry about the divorce process.

Domestic violence and child abuse charges are serious charges and if you are wrongfully accused of child abuse or neglect, your relationship with your children and your future are on the line. You need to act quickly to protect yourself, your children and your reputation from a guilty verdict. Here’s how you can safeguard your rights under New York law and when you should think about getting an experienced Long Island divorce and family law attorney involved.

The Increase of Domestic Violence Accusations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Among the many consequences of the coronavirus pandemic is the effect on domestic violence and child abuse cases across the U.S. The rise in cases also reflects a rise in false allegations, which are more likely to be prosecuted in an effort to protect children staying at home. The United Nations Population Fund recently published that just three months of self-isolation or quarantine will result in a staggering 20% rise in domestic violence reports, particularly in areas of marginalized people. Overall, there are expected to be 15 million new reports of domestic violence as a result of the coronavirus and accompanying lockdowns.

A guilty verdict during a pandemic could be detrimental; if you are forced to leave the family home with nowhere to go, the risk to your health is significant and you won’t be able to quarantine or practice social distancing effectively. With the already heightened financial stress many families are under as a result of the pandemic, a domestic violence or child abuse charge could financially bankrupt the accused and potentially even the whole family.

 

 

“A year ago life as I knew it forever changed. My husband of more than 2 decades went to CPS and accused me of heinous acts…. I knew the charges against me were false and could not be proven…. Robert and Christine took on my case when it was just one neglect charge against me. At my first court appearance I found out that I was also being charged with Munchausen’s by Proxy. I assumed Robert and Christine would drop me as a client – they didn’t – they fought even harder for me…. What actually happened was EXACTLY what I was told by Robert and Christine…. Robert and Christine took care of ME. They read my emails and responded quickly – returned my phone calls and they entertained my endless theories …. I was a Mom filled with tremendous fear but Robert and Christine assured me “WE WILL WIN”-“BUT, IT WILL TAKE TIME”. The staff at this firm is amazing…. I was very lucky to find a team willing to go to battle for me….” – Happy Mom

 

How Family Disputes Can Result in Criminal Child Abuse Charges

Family legal cases are wrought with emotion, especially when children are involved. It’s not uncommon for one parent to attempt to gain control over a divorce or child custody battle by falsely accusing the other parent of domestic abuse. Because abuse tends to happen behind closed doors with few witnesses, little evidence beyond the initial testimony is needed to pursue criminal charges. Naturally, courts on Long Island act swiftly in cases of child neglect or abuse to protect children from harm. However, even when the allegations of abuse or neglect aren’t legitimate, custody and visitation rights may be revoked from the accused parent without real cause.

The Importance of Getting Legal Help if You are Accused of Child Abuse or Neglect

If you were accused of child neglect or abuse of any kind — be it physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional — it’s imperative that you secure legal representation as soon as possible. When the charges are levied against you, the state begins building a case against you right away. Even if the accuser ends up recanting their testimony, the state still has an obligation to pursue the charges unless and until evidence proves that no abuse or neglect occurred, or you were not the perpetrator. This means that you could still end up in court, even after your accuser withdraws their statement. Having an experienced family law attorney on your side can help you bring forward a solid defense.

3 Ways to Protect Yourself — and Your Family — from Child Abuse & Neglect Charges

Launching a multi-pronged defense strategy is critical after you’ve been charged with the neglect or abuse of a minor. Don’t rely on one single defense to prove your innocence or be enough to create reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. Always look for multiple ways to defend yourself and provide multiple forms of evidence that support your case. You should:

#1. Collect Compelling Evidence

Evidence is going to be your most powerful ally, but sometimes obtaining it in cases of false abuse allegations is difficult. If the accusations suggest you were at home with the child alone when the abuse occurred, but you were out with friends at a restaurant, you could bring forward the receipt or a witness from the restaurant that can testify they saw you there at the time of the alleged incident. Any evidence of an alibi may be enough to exonerate you, or at least create reasonable doubt.

You can also do this with character witnesses. If you have an employer, coworkers, friends, business associates, family members, or other individuals who are willing to speak on your behalf, they can provide a witness statement as evidence that the accusations against you are well outside of your normal character.

#2. Expose False Accusations

Perhaps you have no evidence that you didn’t commit the alleged act of abuse, but you have plenty of evidence to suggest that someone else has the motivation and means to levy false allegations against you. For example, say you have text messages from your child’s other parent that demand you give up one of your visitation weekends and that if you don’t, they will report you for child abuse. The quid pro quo is clear and evidence of this nature can be used to illustrate the probability that the accusations against you are false. You can also bring forward other evidence as motivation, such as witnesses that can speak to the character of your ex or instances where they have manipulated and lied.

#3. Create a Record of Everything

Ideally, you’ve been using a co-parenting app or have been keeping your own records of communication between you and your child’s other parent. If you haven’t, it’s important to start now. Log all messages, phone calls, pick up and drop off times, and any other information of importance related to the shared custody of your child. In particular, record your activities with the child any time you have time with them. Keep movie tickets, restaurant and store receipts, and other proof that can both provide necessary alibis and speak to your character.

Additional Things to Know to Protect Yourself from Child Abuse & Neglect Charges

Being accused of harming your child or engaging in domestic violence is a disruptive, frightening experience. Here are some additional things to know about protecting yourself from child abuse allegations:

Do Not Talk to CPS

Child Protective Services (CPS) will make you believe that they’re there to help you, but they’re working to build a case against you. CPS agents are trained to look for each small piece of evidence that when combined can be used to form a solid case to prove your guilt. Following the death of 8-year-old Thomas Valva and the $200M lawsuit filed by his mother against Suffolk Child Protective Services for failing to adequately respond to years of abuse reports, CPS agencies across the country are likely to be hypervigilant about prosecuting cases involving violence or abuse against a child.

Cooperate with the Investigation, Up to a Point

That said, it’s also important that you’re not seen as standoffish, aggressive, or uncooperative. This is why working with an experienced lawyer is critical — your attorney can help you appear cooperative and genial to CPS agents and police officers who are working your case without giving away information that they can twist and use against you to prove your guilt. You should never volunteer information to CPS or police during a domestic violence or child abuse investigation, and if asked questions by an agent or officer, politely refer them to your lawyer. It’s possible to safeguard your rights during an investigation without creating a hostile, uncooperative, or otherwise problematic impression.

Understand Your Rights

Police officers and prosecutors may treat you as though you have few or no rights during a domestic violence investigation. Many already believe you’re guilty and will likely engage with you as if you were. However, you have the same rights as any U.S. citizen being investigated for a crime, including the right to remain silent and the right to speak with an attorney.

When Should You Hire a Family Law Attorney to Protect Yourself from Child Abuse & Neglect Charges?

Child abuse and neglect charges can destroy your family, career, and your future. Working with an experienced divorce lawyer or family law attorney is crucial to protecting yourself — and your loved ones — from the consequences of a guilty verdict. Our Long Island family law firm is dedicated to advocating for parents and caregivers who have been wrongfully accused of child abuse or neglect. We’ll work hard to get you back to seeing your kids again as soon as possible. Contact us today for a free consultation at 631-923-1910.

 

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rrezarta lekaj
rrezarta lekaj
20:47 24 Nov 21
Christine is truly the best there is. She is beyond professional, personable, genuine, extremely trusting, and has made such a stressful and emotional time for my family and I easier to get through. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your guidance, your support, and being there every step of the way. I would highly recommend Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. to anyone that is in need for legal advice - you will be in the best hands.
Rob and Christine are the very best out there!I can not say enough about them. They both have helped me so much in different matters throughout the last several years . They have gone over and beyond!I highly recommend this law firm !
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rrezarta lekaj
rrezarta lekaj
20:47 24 Nov 21
Christine is truly the best there is. She is beyond professional, personable, genuine, extremely trusting, and has made... such a stressful and emotional time for my family and I easier to get through. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your guidance, your support, and being there every step of the way. I would highly recommend Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. to anyone that is in need for legal advice - you will be in the best hands.read more
Janine Martello D'onofrio
Janine Martello D'onofrio
21:00 02 Oct 21
Rob and Christine are the very best out there!I can not say enough about them. They both have helped me so much in... different matters throughout the last several years . They have gone over and beyond!I highly recommend this law firm !read more
Tara Tocci
Tara Tocci
20:59 17 Sep 21
I called to make an appointment for a consultation to discuss a mediated divorce, the office was fantastic with getting... me a prompt appointment. When going in all my questions were asked and I left feeling comfortable in my decision to move forward in using the Hornberger/Verbitsky office. Despite a pandemic going on the office still worked diligently to get my papers filed and my divorce complete in a timely manner. Highly recommend!read more
cristina romero
cristina romero
20:17 17 Sep 21
Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C were phenomenal in every way. Robert was very genuine, patient and professional. Walking in,... I had no idea what to expect but he went above and beyond to explain the entire process thoroughly. He guided and informed me of my rights. Patty was amazing, she answered every question I had no matter how many times I called, she was very understanding. I highly recommend Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. Even if its just for questions on how to navigate this process.read more
Kerri
Kerri
16:57 17 Sep 21
Rob and his team are by far one of the greatest! Patty is amazing and will make sure all of your questions are... addressed and responded to. Rob and his team made a very tough time in my life as simple as possible. Rob is extremely knowledgeable and very empathetic. Patty was a pleasure to work with and I would recommend this firm to anyone that needs a great divorce attorney. Thank you for all of your help!read more
Angela Thearle
Angela Thearle
00:21 07 Aug 21
Hornberger law was the best choice I made when I needed to go to family court with my ex for custody of my children.... They were there at any time when I neeeded them. Going through a custody battle can be a huge emotional rollercoaster and very painful. They helped me through it and made it less painful and heartbreaking. And I got the outcome plus more than I expectedread more
Tammy Granville
Tammy Granville
11:49 04 Jul 21
Everyone was very professional. Never had to call to get an update on my case. Someone always updated me on a regular... basis.read more
LilMissPerfct Dessie
LilMissPerfct Dessie
06:46 11 Feb 21
I am a graduate of Norland English nanny college. I thank God every day that Mr. Robert Hornberger protected my clients... in the legal ways i could not. Children are a blessing not a blender to be fought over during some silly spat!read more
Anastasia R
Anastasia R
22:45 17 Dec 20
I went to see Rob for a modification for my child custody agreement to relocate, I can honestly say that working with... Rob and Christine has been the best experience. I cannot recommend them enough I only wish I had seen them sooner. They are prompt with communication, and they are honest which I appreciate so much. They do not give you fake promises and they do their best to fight for what you want which they do amazingly well! You can tell they are passionate about what they do and care about their clients. A very important aspect of lawyer client relationship for me is an open line of communication, the anxiety of the unknown always gets the best of us. The fact they were always available whether it be phone call or email to answer any question was extremely comforting and exactly what I needed. I am not well versed with laws and regulation so knowing I had Rob and his partners there when I was unsure or conflicted was extremely needed and greatly appreciated.When it comes to family court it's never easy but having Rob and his partner by my side I felt extremely comfortable and he helped me have realistic expectations. Please TRUST HIM!! If you're looking for a lawyer (at least for my end from child custody/Family Court) don't look any further you will not be disappointed. I hope to never have to use them again but in the event I have to, they are going to be my forever first call.read more
A Google User
A Google User
15:42 16 Sep 20
I hired Robert to handle a child custody and child support matter. He was prompt and professional and was able to... achieve a result that 3 prior attorneys could not. He and his staff made a stressful situation easy. I highly recommend his office.read more
Ann Masten
Ann Masten
17:48 12 May 20
I am a paralegal in an unrelated field of law. I phoned Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today intending to refer a client... to their office. Instead (and despite that we are the midst of the present crisis), Mr. Hornberger himself graciously accommodated my questions over the telephone, and was generous with his time and adroit in his response, saving our client a small fortune in unnecessary legal fees. I have not had any similar experience, in which counsel was so generous with his expertise, in 22+ years of interacting with prominent, local attorneys, and the client is overjoyed. Based on this experience, I would now whole -heartedly recommend this firm as trusted professionals to any client requiring a firm expert in family law and related legal issues.read more
Everett Roberts
Everett Roberts
14:30 18 Mar 20
Going through a divorce was very challenging and emotional. Searching for an attorney can be challenging as well when... you consider everything that is at stake. The choice I made to work with Rob Hornberger was surely the best choice available. His professionalism, expertise, and understanding made him and the entire team perfectly suited to achieve the outcomes I desired. Rob was always available to answer my questions and give me advice and legal considerations that affected my situation. The support I received from his staff was exemplary as well. The staff was courteous, kind, and also very professional. Thank you so much Rob and team for a worry free experience.read more
Annemarie Cusumano
Annemarie Cusumano
21:41 17 Mar 20
Being in family court especially when your children are on the line is extremely emotional and stressful but working... with Robert and Christine put me at ease and made the process as pleasant as a situation like that can be. I have a now 3 year old daughter (who is the most important person in my life) and I've been working with them for over two years since my daughter was 7 months old, the case has been up and down and through it all Rob and Christine have never given up. My original case was due to a neglect charge. Cps is not easy to work with, but Rob and Christine were vigilant and I ended up getting my daughter back within 8 months and did not have to plead guilty to the neglect. Currently I am in family court to figure out a custody agreement. They are professional, empathetic, and patient. They have always explained everything thoroughly, informed me of all my options and advised me of what my best option would be. They always respond quickly when I contact them with questions or concerns and most importantly they fight for me in court and don't give up even when things get rough. Before hiring Rob and Christine I met with other attorneys who did not make me feel confident or comfortable at all about my case, so I am very grateful to have found Rob and Christine and to be represented by such great attorneys. I highly recommend them for any family court matters and will definitely continue to use them in the future if needed.read more
Randi Gottlieb
Randi Gottlieb
18:47 03 Mar 20
Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. - Mr. Robert Hornberger and his staff are beyond professional, they quickly gave me my... consultation appointment, and helped me with an after-Divorce issue. Mr. Hornberger was empathetic and explained to me what I should expect. Mr. Hornberger was extremely professional and advised me of my options, he helped me proceed with accurate and smart decisions. I wish I had Mr. Hornberger and his highly recommended staff when I was getting divorced. I would highly recommend Robert and his staff to anyone who is getting a divorce or in need of help with situations after the divorce!read more
Rob Spielmann
Rob Spielmann
22:15 27 Feb 20
They made our process so easy. They were there to answer and help with any questions that came up. Very friendly
Ashley Hubner
Ashley Hubner
20:30 14 Feb 20
Navigating my divorce was a challenging experience to say the least, but I was supported and guided every step of the... way by my attorney, Robert. With the daunting task of hiring a divorce lawyer, I knew I would need someone with the right combination of knowledge, compassion and integrity. Robert has a strong background in family law, sincere character and direct communication to be superior to the others. He and his staff were professional and caring. I always felt I was in good hands. I highly recommend the Law Offices Hornberger and Verbitsky for the legal expertise, compassion and understanding of the many complex facets associated with divorce.read more
Thomas Livingston
Thomas Livingston
21:31 26 Jan 20
Robert and Christine are the epitome of professionalism. They helped us with the purchase of our new home. They were... efficient, dedicated, and focused on making our closing as seamless as possible.read more
Sheila Vasata
Sheila Vasata
23:35 14 Jan 20
Robert Hornberger has been a friend of mine and my family for years. He has helped us all in ways that are too... numerable to mention. I went through a divorce that I don’t think I could’ve done if I didn’t have Robert by my side. He is vivacious, motivated, knowledgeable, and has an extreme desire to succeed and excel...and he does! He goes over and above for all of his clientele. I would recommend his law firm to anybody who is looking for a Great Lawyer with integrity!read more
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