Bergen County Woman Arrested and Charged with Child Abuse
Joyce Gonzalez, a 39-year-old woman from Bergen County, New Jersey, was recently arrested and charged with child abuse after a 10-year-old boy attended school while suffering from an injured shoulder.
According to authorities, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (“DYFS”), contacted the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit after receiving a report from the child’s school that he had an injured shoulder. Ms. Gonzalez was later arrested after a joint investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and the Lodi Police Department. Although Ms. Gonzalez was charged with child abuse, the available information does not indicate the relationship between her and the child victim or whether the juvenile is her kid.
Regardless of the specific relationship between the child and Ms. Gonzalez, New Jersey’s criminal child abuse and neglect laws, specifically N.J.S.A. 9:6-3, set forth that any parent, guardian, or person having the care, custody, or control of any child, who shall abuse, abandon, be cruel to or neglectful of any child shall be deemed to be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
As for the definition of “child abuse” under the criminal statute, N.J.S.A. 9:6-1 states that “abuse of a child shall consist in any of the following acts: (a) disposing of the custody of a child contrary to law; (b) employing or permitting a child to be employed in any vocation or employment injurious to its health or dangerous to its life or limb, or contrary to the laws of this State; (c) employing or permitting a child to be employed in any occupation, employment, or vocation dangerous to the morals of such child; (d) the habitual use by the parent or by a person having the custody and control of the child, in the hearing of such child, or profane, indecent, or obscene language; (e) the performing of any indecent, immoral, or unlawful act or deed, in the presence of the child, that may tend to debauch or endanger or degrade the morals of the child; (f) permitting or allowing any other person to perform an indecent, immoral, or unlawful act in the presence of the child that may tend to debauch or endanger the morals of such child; (g) using excessive physical restraint on the child under circumstances which do not indicate that the child’s behavior is harmful to himself, others, or property; or (h) in an institution, as defined in N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21, willfully isolating the child from ordinary social contact under circumstances which indicate emotional or social deprivation.”
Although DCP&P initially responded to the child’s school in this case, the Division still had to contact the police because there was suspected criminal activity. This led to a dual investigation, which is what typically happens in cases like this. On the one hand, DCP&P will investigate to determine whether the allegation is substantiated, established, not established, or unfounded – which can potentially result in removal of the children from the home or an implementation of services for the family. On the other hand, the police or prosecutor’s office will conduct a separate investigation to determine whether any criminal acts occurred – which can result in an arrest, criminal charges, and incarceration. Thus, if you are being investigated by DCP&P, it is imperative to contact the child abuse and neglect defense attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm to learn about your rights, the possible outcomes of DCP&P investigations, and what can be done to get DYFS out of your life.