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Commonly Asked Questions
Failure to Report Suspected Child Abuse or Failure to Satisfy a Reporting Obligation.
If you are a mandated reporter and find yourself faced with a criminal charge for failure to report, it is imperative that you acquire the services of a lawyer with the qualifications, experience, and reputation to properly defend these charges.
A conviction for failure to report is a serious criminal offense and could result in substantial penalties including incarceration, fines and loss of one’s teaching credentials.
The Law Offices of Marc Neff is a team of legal professionals with over 25 years of experience defending individuals and institutions charged with serious crimes. Mr. Neff has represented hundreds of professionals employed by Pennsylvania’s educational system. His experience in the field, coupled with his determination to fastidiously review each case and determine how to best limit or even prevent the damage to one’s personal and professional reputation is unmatched in the legal community.
Reporting laws are frequently amended. As recently as December 2014, Pennsylvania made changes to child abuse and child abuse reporting laws. It is essential that you engage a professional on the cutting edge in his field, a person with the knowledge and experience to properly handle your matter.
Who are Mandatory Reporters?
Any school employee, whether or not a teacher, whether or not that person is paid by the school, who comes into direct contact with children, is mandated to report suspected child abuse.
In addition, any individual providing a regularly scheduled program or activity—whether or not it is sponsored by the school directly (e.g. youth groups, after school activities) has a responsibility to report.
What Must be Reported?
The list of alleged child abuse that mandates reporting is extensive. Reporting is mandated if the child is under 18 years of age. The alleged abuse must have occurred within the past two years. The alleged harm can be physical, mental, neglectful, or sexual in nature.
Child-on-child abuse, when the child inflicting damage is over 14 years of age and is either responsible for (e.g. babysitter), living with, or commits an act constituting rape or other sexual assault-type behavior, must be reported.
When Must Child Abuse Be Reported?
If you are a mandatory reporter and have reasonable cause for suspicion of child abuse, you must report. When faced with the decision of whether or not to report, it is best to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
Recent amendments (December 2014) identify a number of situations as examples of what constitutes “reasonable cause to suspect” abuse:
- When a mandated reporter comes into contact with a child in the course of their job or service to children and witnesses or hears something that could be child abuse.
- When a person makes a specific disclosure to a mandated reporter that an identifiable child is the victim of abuse.
- When an individual 14 years of age or older makes a specific disclosure to a mandated reporter that an identifiable child is the victim of abuse.
Facing Criminal Charges Related to Failure to Report.
It is essential to engage the services of a highly qualified lawyer as soon as you become aware that you may be facing this type of charge. Early intervention by an experienced criminal defense attorney significantly improves your chances of minimizing negative consequences.
To schedule a confidential consultation contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff by phone at (215) 563-9800 or by email at Marc@nefflawoffices.com.