Although many people tend to think that “child abuse” necessarily involves physical or sexual harm being committed against a minor, it is also possible for an adult to be charged with child abuse if they neglect a child. That’s because New Jersey law explicitly prohibits child neglect. Moreover, a person accused of child neglect in NJ faces severe consequences that could include criminal charges and loss of custody.
Loss of Custody and Prison Time for Child Neglect in NJ
A parent or caregiver commits child neglect when they fail to properly supervise a child or fail to provide adequate food, shelter, education, or medical care to a child. When a parent is suspected of child neglect or child abuse, the NJ Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) often gets involved and conducts a child welfare investigation. In fact, anyone who has reasonable cause to believe that a child is being neglected or abused must immediately report their suspicions to authorities. (Failure to report is actually a criminal offense in NJ and could result in jail time.) Depending on the findings of investigators who look into the allegations of child neglect or abuse, the parent could potentially be stripped of custody of their child.
In addition to facing an investigation by the DCP&P and loss of custody, a parent suspected of child neglect or child abuse can also be criminally charged by NJ prosecutors. N.J.S.A. 9:6-1 covers child endangerment in New Jersey and stipulates that certain acts, such as isolating the child or allowing the child to be employed in a dangerous position, constitute acts of abuse, abandonment, cruelty, or neglect. The statute further classifies child endangerment as a fourth degree felony in most instances, which means that a conviction could result in a sentence of up to 18 months in NJ State Prison.
If you are being investigated for child neglect in Atlantic County, NJ, you need an experienced criminal defense and DCP&P defense lawyer on your side. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can help you fight your charges and maintain custody of your child. Contact us now to schedule a free consultation about your case.