As the Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog has discussed many times, norms are changing every day. And where there are people who are behind the times in said norms…you will usually find the criminal justice system ready to take action.
Take, for example, the case of Carla Williams, a 27-year-old Lowell mother will be hereinafter referred to as the “Defendant”. She spent last night as an involuntary guest of the Commonwealth and was arraigned today.
She has been charged with committing an assault and battery on her 10-year-old daughter. Because this took place within a family, it is considered domestic violence and the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) have been alerted to bring their special brand of “care” to the situation.
According to Lowell Police Captain Kelly Richardson, the police were called to the incident in which the Defendant was accused of dragging her daughter home by her hair, punching her in the face and dragging her up a flight of stairs by the ankle.
The Defendant’s alleged response to the officers who came to the scene? She apparently lectured the officers, demanding that “she has the right to discipline her child.”
According to Captain Richardson, the trouble began when the Defendant, apparently angry that her child had crossed the street to play in a neighbor’s yard, “came running out of the house, screaming…It was a pretty horrific scene. She was dragging (the daughter) by the hair and slapping her about the face and body. She told her, ‘I’m sick of you ruining my life.’ She yells this at the kid right in the middle of the street.” Other reports indicate that the “Slapping” included at least on closed-hand fist and a bloody nose.
Once inside, the daughter called 911 while hiding in a bedroom.
Apparently, even as the officers began treating the girl, the Defendant continued arguing with them about her rights as a parent.
The daughter was taken to Lowell General Hospital for treatment.
“She was a mess,” Richardson said. “She was bleeding heavily from the nose, complaining of neck pain. She had bruises on her arms.”
Attorney Sam’s Take On The Limitations On Parental Rights
When I was growing up, it was not all that unusual for kids to get a spanking. It was also not considered so extreme to slap one’s child across the mouth at times.
Disciplining one’s child was generally considered a matter to be decided by the parent.
Naturally, there were limits. Should a spanking take place by using a metal shovel against the child’s head, clearly that would be considered extreme and illegal.
However, the new norm is to keep away from physical punishment such as this. Once the parents lose the right to strike their child, then the striking becomes an assault and battery. Definitionally.
In this case, it is treated even more seriously because it is a young child and it is now an incident of “domestic violence”. Of course, the behavior itself does seem a bit extreme even for the days of yesteryear. Finally, it never helps to be fighting with the police when they come to call.
“What is likely to happen in this case, Sam?”
It is hard to tell at this point, but the Defendant is clearly in for a rough ride. Aside from any question of criminal conviction or punishment, DCF may well institute an action to remove the child from the Defendant’s custody. They may even try to dissolve her parental rights. One can never tell with DCF.
Regular readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of DCF because of the various matters which I have handled. However, even I have to admit that this is a case that needs their attention. I just wish I had more confidence that they will know what they are doing.
Of course, the real victim of all of this will be the daughter. The mother’s attack aside, she will have to deal with the guilt (undeserved) of calling the police and the fallout from the legal labyrinth of what happens next.
These criminal cases and DCF matters have increased in terms of traffic in my office. As a result, we handle a great deal more DCF matters than ever before.
Parental rights is something that most of us take for granted. We shouldn’t. They can be terminated.
If you find yourself facing such actions either by DCF or the Commonwealth in terms of a criminal prosecution, you want to be represented by experienced counsel in whom you have faith.
The road ahead, even in the best of circumstances, is often a dark and confusing Wonderland-type of adventure which would put Lewis Carroll to shame. You will need someone on your side who can explain what is going on and help you get through it.
To read the story upon which this blog was based, please go to http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1061138694&srvc=rss