New York Family Law Group

New York Child Abuse Laws: An Overview

Last updated on September 18, 2023

In New York, child abuse laws fall under the Family Court Act. Under Family Court Act, Section 1012.(e), an abused child is one whose parents or guardians are legally responsible for the child’s care, inflicting physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual exploitation, or assault. Child abuse could also constitute maltreatment and neglect that result in serious harm to the child.

Child abuse is a serious crime in New York, and if you’re charged with assault and battery of a child, you could face up to 25 years in prison without the right representation. If you or a friend has been accused of child abuse in New York, it is advisable to consult with an experienced Manhattan child abuse and neglect lawyer for legal guidance. At New York Family Law Group, our lawyers have extensive experience in defending individuals accused of child abuse and helping individuals understand what qualifies as child neglect. With our compassionate approach and in-depth knowledge of New York child abuse laws, we can diligently work towards achieving the best possible outcome for your situation. Contact us today at (347) 212-5113  to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.

Child Abuse Laws in New York

Under New York child abuse laws Code Section 411-428, child abuse constitutes any injury inflicted intentionally, causing impairment of physical or mental health, disfigurement, death, or creating a high risk of injury or sexual abuse.

Child abuse or neglect reports are filed when there is reason to suspect that a child has been abused or if someone has information regarding an instance of child abuse. Mandated reporters are required to make their suspicions of child abuse known. These suspicions might be cultivated by certain circumstances involving the child, the condition in which the child is living, or facts presented to them by the child. 

Who is Considered a Mandated Reporter for Child Abuse?

In New York, certain professions are required by law to act as mandated reporters for any suspected child abuse. Mandated reporters who do not report their suspicions to the correct parties can be held accountable in the criminal and civil legal system for willingly failing to report abuse incidents. 

Mandated reporters are required to make a report when presented with reasonable or substantial doubt to suspect a child is being abused. The professions that require their workers to act as mandated reporters include: 

  • Social services workers
  • Licensed marriage and family therapists
  • Registered physician’s assistants
  • School officials and teachers 
  • Residential care workers and volunteers
  • Mental health professionals
  • District attorneys or assistant district attorneys
  • Christian Science practitioners
  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
  • Providers of family or group family daycare
  • Law enforcement personnel
New York child abuse attorney

Common Perpetrators of Child Abuse

All of us would like to think that child abusers can be easily identified and avoided by our children. However, people who abuse children often look and act just like everyone else, making them seem trustworthy. Children are often convinced that neglect or abuse is acceptable because the abusers have some control over their lives.

The perpetrators of abuse could include:

  • School administrators and teachers
  • Managers or employees at daycare
  • Sports coaches and team managers
  • Members of the clergy or other religious leaders
  • Families and friends
  • Caregivers or babysitters

Employers can sometimes be held responsible for permitting abuse. These cases are most prevalent in schools and daycares that fail to conduct background checks or ignore the results. They also don’t follow up on family or employee complaints. These actions are considered negligence because a reasonable person would conduct background checks to ensure the safety of children.

Statute Of Limitations

Even though it’s controversial, New York has a statute of limitations for child abuse cases. If a child victim is not able to file a claim against their abuser in a timely manner, they may be barred from seeking justice.

A civil case involving child abuse can only be filed within five years of the person becoming the majority. This means that it must be filed before the victim turns 23. While this may change in the future, it is a reminder of how important it is to take action against abusers as soon as possible.

What CPS Can and Cannot Do in New York

Child Protective Services (CPS) in New York operates as part of the Office of Children and Family Services. Their primary responsibility is to investigate reports of child abuse or neglect and, if warranted, ensure the safety of children by potentially removing them from their homes. It is important to note that while CPS functions similarly to law enforcement agencies, it does not have law enforcement authority and must obtain court orders to carry out specific actions.

When considering the actions that Child Protective Services (CPS) can take during an investigation, some of their powers may come as a surprise. However, it is important to understand that CPS is granted these powers in the best interest of the children involved. Here is what CPS can do in New York:

  • Interview Children Without Parental Permission or Knowledge: CPS has the authority to interview children suspected of abuse or neglect without notifying their parents. This is done to prevent potential coaching or manipulation by parents to conceal abuse.
  • Remove Children from the Household: In cases of severe abuse or neglect, CPS can obtain a court order to remove children from their home.
  • Recommend Termination of Parental Rights: If children are removed from their home due to abuse or neglect, CPS can suggest to the court that parental rights be terminated. However, regaining parental rights can be a challenging process.
  • Conduct Invasive Questioning: During an investigation, CPS may ask uncomfortable or probing questions as they strive for thoroughness and child protection.
  • Expect Compliance with Plans: Although safety or service plans from CPS are typically not court-ordered, compliance is expected. Failure to adhere to the plan may be reported to the court as non-cooperation.
  • Use Statements Against You: Conversations with CPS are not confidential, and anything said can be used against you in court, even if taken out of context.
CPS Powers in New York Limitations and Restrictions
Interview Children Without Parental Permission CPS must have reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect
Remove Children from the Household Requires a court order
Recommend Termination of Parental Rights Decision rests with the court
Conduct Invasive Questioning Done in pursuit of thoroughness and child protection
Expect Compliance with Plans Non-compliance may be reported to the court
Use Statements Against You Conversations are not confidential and can be used in court

Regarding what CPS cannot do, it is essential to be aware of certain limitations. For instance, if CPS violates the law during an investigation, the case may be automatically dismissed. Here is what CPS cannot do in New York:

  • Forcefully Enter Your Home: CPS cannot enter a home without permission unless they have obtained a court order.
  • Compel an Individual to Take a Drug Test: CPS can request that an individual undergo a drug test, but they can only require a parent to do so with a court order.

Navigating the complexities of being accused of child abuse or neglect in New York can be overwhelming, but having a skilled lawyer by your side can provide invaluable assistance. At New York Family Law Group, our experienced New York child abuse and neglect lawyers understand the seriousness of these allegations and are experienced in representing clients involved in CPS investigations, ensuring that their rights are protected throughout the process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us advocate for your best interests.

How a New York Family Law Attorney Can Help

A family law attorney specializes in matters related to family law and can help handle your child abuse case. New York imposes stiff penalties on those charged with child abuse, so you want to have the best legal representation possible. The laws surrounding child abuse and neglect in New York are complex and can be draining, especially if you are working with inexperienced lawyers.

Therefore, if you or someone you know has been accused of child abuse or neglect and need assistance, the dedicated team of family law attorneys at New York Family Law Group can help. We rely on our 30+ years of experience to provide you with the legal expertise, individualized services, and compassionate support you require to achieve a desirable outcome.

Ready to get started? Contact us and schedule a free discovery call at (347) 212-5113 to discuss your case details with our New York child abuse lawyers, Ethan Steward and Martin Mohr, and get the assistance you need.



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