Maryland Man Is Facing Child Abuse Charges After Infant Suffers “Significant Injuries”
A Maryland father is facing child abuse charges after doctors discovered that his 6-week-old infant suffered significant injuries including fractured bones. The child received medical care at Frederick Health Hospital before medics transferred the child to Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. Child Protective Services later contacted the Frederick Police Department about the child’s injuries, according to police. Over the next few days, investigators performed numerous interviews and went to the home where they suspected that the abuse occurred. Detectives later obtained an arrest warrant for the 33-year-old father of the child based on their investigation and information they received from the child’s doctors at Children’s National Hospital. Officers then arrested the father and charged him with both first and second degree child abuse.
Analyzing the charges
In Maryland, state law defines child abuse as “physical injury sustained by a minor as a result of cruel or inhumane treatment.” In other words, prosecutors must establish that a parent or guardian intentionally and maliciously harmed a child for it to qualify as child abuse.
In many cases, police act on information provided to them by a child’s doctors. In these cases, a doctor may recognize that an injury occurred, but not know how or why that injury occurred. If they suspect child abuse, they will refer the case to Child Protective Services. Child Protective Services is predisposed to assume that a child has been abused by a parent. If they see injuries that they cannot explain, they will interpret those injuries as evidence of abuse. Child Protective Services will then refer the matter to police who will charge the parent with child abuse.
First- and second-degree child abuse in Maryland
Prosecutors can charge a parent or guardian with second-degree child abuse if they believe that the parent treated the child cruelly or inhumanely on purpose, thereby harming or threatening to harm the child’s welfare. Physical injury need not necessarily be established to prove second-degree child abuse. The child’s welfare need only be threatened by the parent or guardian who is tasked with their care. Intentional inhuman treatment, however, is an element of the crime.
First-degree child abuse requires “severe injury” or death. In the case mentioned above, the extent of the child’s injuries is unknown. It is therefore unknown whether or not the injuries are substantial enough to qualify as “severe” under Maryland law.
The defendant may be able to get the charge of first-degree child abuse dropped pending a report on the extent of the child’s injuries. It is unlikely that the defendant will face charges of both first- and second-degree child abuse. Police likely charged him with both because they were uncertain that a charge of first-degree child abuse would stick.
Talk to a Maryland Child Abuse Defense Lawyer Today
If you are a parent who is currently being charged with child abuse, you should hire a qualified criminal defense attorney who can help defend you against the charges. Often, parents are wrongly accused of intentionally abusing their children when the child suffered an accidental injury. The Bel Air criminal defense attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson can help you beat the charges and retain custody of your child. Call our office today to learn more.