Defending Medical Child Abuse Cases in Fort Worth and Surrounding Areas
Medical child abuse, also known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy, is a mental health disorder that causes a parent or caregiver to fabricate or induce illness in a child. This can be done by either directly causing harm to the child or by making up false information to get medical professionals to treat the child. The motivation is usually attention-seeking.
Medical child abuse is a very serious allegation that can have devastating consequences for the child and the caregiver. In this blog post, we are going to discuss the crime, the consequences, and give examples of real cases in Texas.
If you or a loved one has been accused of medical child abuse in North Texas, it’s imperative to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Police and prosecutors take these cases very seriously and will aggressively pursue a conviction. At Varghese Summersett, our attorneys have vast experience handling child abuse cases – first as specialized child abuse prosecutors and now as highly-skilled defense attorneys.
What is medical child abuse in Texas?
Medical child abuse – which is commonly known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy – occurs when a caregiver (usually a mother) creates or exaggerates medical symptoms in a child to garner attention. In turn, the child undergoes painful and unneeded medical tests, procedures or surgeries. The caregiver’s actions are often the result of a mental illness, which is also referred to as factitious disorder, that causes her to seek attention.
How is medical child abuse charged in North Texas?
In Texas, there is no statute for “medical child abuse.” It falls under injury to a child, which can be found in Section 22.04 of the Texas Penal Code. A person commits injury to a child if he or she intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence, causes to a child:
- serious bodily injury;
- serious mental deficiency, impairment or injury; or
- bodily injury.
What is the punishment for medical child abuse in Texas?
Medical child abuse in Texas is punished as injury to a child, which can be a first-degree felony, second-degree felony, third-degree felony or state jail felony. The charge will depend on the severity of the child’s injuries and the caregiver’s mental state and whether the injuries were allegedly inflicted intentionally or knowingly, recklessly or negligently.
- A first-degree felony is punishable by five to 99 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
- A second-degree felony is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a maximum $10,00 fine.
- A third-degree felony is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10000 fine.
- A state jail felony is punishable by six months to two years in a state jail and a maximum $10000 fine.
If you or a loved one has been arrested on allegations of medical child abuse, it’s important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to find out the severity of the charge and to start building an aggressive defense strategy. These cases usually stem from a mother or caregiver’s mental illness, which we will try to use to mitigate the charges against you.
Will CPS get involved in cases of medical child abuse?
Yes. In cases of medical child abuse, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (CPS) will likely get involved to investigate the allegations and to ensure that the child is safe. If CPS finds evidence of medical child abuse, they may remove the child from the home and place them in foster care or with another relative while the criminal case is pending.
If you or loved one has been contacted by CPS, it’s important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Don’t speak with them without talking first to an attorney.
What are some examples of medical child abuse in Texas?
Medical child abuse case often make headlines. Here’s a look at some North Texas cases in recent years.
- In 2022, a Haltom City mother was arrested on allegations that she falsified her 5-year-old son’s medical history, had him on 23 medications, and forced him to use a wheelchair. She also allegedly used the fake sickness to raise money for unnecessary medical equipment on Facebook.
- In 2021, a Fort Worth mother was charged with injury to a child after she told doctors that her 7-month-old child could not eat and insisted to family members that her baby had heart defects, hearing problems and Down syndrome. Investigators allege that the stories were fabricated and that the child underwent unnecessary medical procedures, including a feeding tube.
- In 2020, a Fort Worth mom was accused of depriving her baby of oxygen by squeezing the baby against her chest and then claiming she had stopped breathing and turned blue.
- In 2019, an East Texas nurse was arrested on accusations that she falsely claimed her 7-year-old daughter had diabetes and gave her unneeded insulin. Investigators allege she started a GoFundMe in an effort to buy her daughter a diabetic alert dog.
If you or a loved one has been accused of medical child abuse, you are not alone. Over the years, numerous North Texas mothers have been accused of this crime. We understand the struggles you are facing and we are here to help you through this difficult time. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Call for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
At Varghese Summersett, we have some of the most highly-skilled and experienced criminal defense attorneys in Texas. Our attorneys have handled thousands of cases, including numerous high-profile and complex cases. In fact, two of our senior attorneys were former chief prosecutors in the Crimes of Against Children Unit at Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office before going into private practice. We know how the other side thinks, which gives us a significant advantage when defending our clients.
Call us today at 817-203-2220 for a free consultation. Don’t wait. The sooner you call, the sooner we can start working on your case. A proactive defense is your best defense.