The prosecutor’s office has received an influx of new child neglect cases because the legislature, under the public pressure, just passed an added definition of child abuse and neglect. The public pressure was the result of several recently reported cases and the recent increase in mothers who neglect their children due to methamphetamine addiction. Using or possessing methamphetamine in the presence of a child is now defined as child abuse under the abuse and neglect code (not the criminal code) in the new law. Additionally, manufacturing methamphetamine in the presence of a child is now a felony. Because of these changes, law enforcement will be required to remove children and place them in foster care any time a child is found in this type of situation.
As the victim witness assistant, you have been assigned to a case that involves a 2-year-old girl who has been beaten by her mother’s live-in boyfriend while the boyfriend was high on methamphetamine. The mother is afraid to leave the relationship because he has said he will kill them both if she tries to leave. There is evidence of a crude meth lab created and used by the boyfriend at the apartment where they live. There are two other children besides the girl, but they are older, 5 and 7 years old, and show no signs of physical abuse. Because of the evidence of the methamphetamine lab, the boyfriend will be arrested on a felony charge as soon as the arrest warrant is ready.
While there is no evidence that the mother has used methamphetamine, it is likely that the boyfriend will return to the home if he is able to make bond. The prosecutor asked you to recommend whether or not the mother should be petitioned on abuse and neglect charges and the children should be removed and put in foster care.
Respond to the following: