Criminal Defense Law Center
West Michigan

  • Wyoming, MI 49519
  • attorneyshawnhaff@gmail.com
  • 616-438-6719
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Child Abuse Attorney
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Shawn Haff of The Criminal Defense Law Center of West Michigan is a dependable criminal defense lawyer for defendants charged with child abuse in Grand Rapids, Michigan or part of West Michigan.

Sometimes the best solution to your case is a plea deal and other times going to trial is the best solution. Either way, we will guide you down the best path if you are facing such extremely serious charges as:

  1. Child Molestation or sex abuse
  2. Criminal Sexual Conduct
  3. Possession of child pornography or child sexually abusive material
  4. Gross indecency
  5. Internet sex crimes

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Michigan Child Abuse Laws

Under Michigan law, abuse of a child covers physical or mental harm to a child “…by an individual who is responsible for the child’s health and welfare.” Abuse of a child can include physical injury, sexual abuse, or maltreatment.

These crimes in Michigan are split into different categories, and the penalties a person charged with this extremely serious crime in Michigan face depend on the category of the crime. There are four categories of this crime in Michigan.

First-Degree Child Abuse Charges

In Michigan, First-degree is the most serious charge. If you are facing First Degree child abuse charges, law enforcement officials believe that a defendant has intentionally inflicted serious physical or mental harm on a child.

Examples of First Degree abuse against a child are when the child has suffered broken bones, injury to internal organs and brain damage. Local prosecutors will be looking to throw the book at anyone charged with inflicting this kind of damage on a child.

At The Criminal Defense Law Center of West Michigan, we understand that your child may have suffered serious injuries that were not caused by you. Our child abuse defense attorneys will fight to protect you against these extremely serious charges.

Second-Degree Child Abuse Charges

Second-degree charges of abusing a child in Michigan is defined by law as where a parent “willfully fails to provide adequate care to a child, and neglects a child’s basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.” An example this kind of child abuse is a person drunk driving with a child in the car.

This crime in Michigan is punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Third-Degree and Fourth-Degree Child Abuse Charges

Third-degree and fourth-degree charges are both high considered misdemeanor charges. Anytime someone is facing a misdemeanor charge in Michigan for harming a child, they may face jail time if convicted. A third-degree charge comes about when the defendant knowingly or intentionally commits an act against a child that caused physical harm. The prosecutor must simply show that the child has been harmed in some way.

Third-degree is a felony. People convicted of this crime in Michigan face up to 2 years in prison. There are some attorneys and even judges who will refer to a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison as a high-court misdemeanor. However, if you are asked on an application if you have been convicted of a felony, you would have to answer yes if you are convicted of this charge.

Fourth-degree requires either of the following:

  • The parent or guardian willfully failed to provide food, clothing, or shelter necessary to the child and that the child suffered physical harm as a result; or
  • The parent or guardian committed a reckless act that resulted in physical harm to the child.

People convicted of this crime in Michigan face up one year in jail.

If you are a victim of abuse, tell your teacher, tell a police officer and seek help immediately!

Federal Child Abuse Charges

Federal Child Abuse legislation provides guidance to States by identifying a minimum set of acts or behaviors that define child abuse and neglect. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g), as amended by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, defines child abuse and neglect as at minimum:

  • “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation”; or
  • “An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”


This definition of federal child abuse and neglect refers specifically to parents and other caregivers. A “child” under this definition generally means a person who is younger than age 18 or who is not an emancipated minor.

While CAPTA provides definitions for sexual abuse and the special cases of neglect related to withholding or failing to provide medically indicated treatment, it does not provide specific definitions for other types of maltreatment such as physical abuse, neglect, or emotional abuse. While Federal legislation sets minimum standards for States that accept CAPTA funding, each state provides its own definitions of maltreatment within civil and criminal statutes.

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  • 2675 44th Street SW
    Suite 208
    Wyoming, MI 49519
  • 616-438-6719
  • attorneyshawnhaff@gmail.com
Criminal Defense Law Center West Michigan

Attorney Shawn Haff
We are available by phone 24/7