CHOOSING AN ATTORNEY
Updated: Mar 20
In regards to attorneys, we have three main criteria for any attorney we refer to:
First, the attorney must possess knowledge of the myriad issues relating to child abuse accusations. They must know the science regarding suggestibility, coercion, memory, and so on.
Second, the attorney must have the legal skills to implement the knowledge. Knowledge without skill will not help you. Skill without knowledge will not help.
Third, the attorney must be responsive to your needs. For example, the attorney will return your calls and not “leave you hanging” for long periods of time. He/she will not have “good, ole boy” discussions with either the prosecutors, opposing attorneys or judges without taking to you about it first.
Most child abuse cases do not fall under Federal Jurisdiction. State laws vary in how an accusation is charged and classified. Even though most states follow Federal Rules of Evidence, there is a variance among the states on how these rules apply. Laws governing the prosecution of child abuse, what evidence is allowed in Court, and the limitations to presenting a defense vary from state to state. A couple of exceptions, governed by Federal Courts, involve allegations/charges made on Indian Reservations and some Kidnapping/Child Stealing cases (such as a parent who takes a child to another country in violation of visitation orders). Cases where the accused is active in the military are governed by their own rules through Courts Martial.
Even though all of the states have adopted provisions of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) in order to receive millions of federal dollars in grant money, Child Protection Agency procedures vary from state to state. Procedures also vary from County to County within each state. Under no circumstances should you think that what you learn from this manual will enable you to
be your own legal representative; it simply will not. Only an attorney, and with rare exception, an attorney licensed to practice in your state, can tell you exactly which of the suggestions and guidelines discussed in this manual can effectively apply to your case, and how they may apply to your legal situation. I can not stress enough how important it is that you always keep this fact in mind: If you haven’t done so already consult or hire a competent attorney, one experienced in properly defending
child abuse cases, immediately. If you need a skilled attorney referral, give us a call for one.