How Munchausen's Disease Can Lead to Criminal Child Abuse Charges in Pennsylvania

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Aug 14, 2023 | 0 Comments

Munchausen's Disease is a complex psychiatric condition in which a person routinely exaggerates or creates physiological or emotional symptoms to gain attention from others. Even though they may not be sick or feeling unwell, people with Munchausen's may believe or cause others to believe that they need medical care. Parents with Munchausen's Disease can transfer symptoms to their child, called Munchausen's by Proxy, such that the child is treated as though they are ill when in fact, they are perfectly healthy. This can have horrible emotional, social, and psychological consequences for these children, who must battle their subjective experiences of how they feel with their parent's confusing delusions. In Pennsylvania, Munchausen's Disease by Proxy can result in child custody battles as well as complex criminal charges.

The Child Abuse Prevention And Treatment Act

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act ("CAPTA") is a federal law that sets the minimum standards for child abuse prevention and treatment programs within The United States. The law also provides federal funding for states that must be used to fund and improve their child protective services agency. The law further provides a framework for identifying and responding to child abuse charges. In Pennsylvania, child abuse allegations are processed by ChildLine, a statewide agency that receives allegations and delegates investigations to appropriate agencies.

If ChildLine determines that urgent intervention is required, CAPTA requires Pennsylvania to implement a temporary safety plan or remove a child from their home.

Pennsylvania State Laws Regarding Medical Neglect

Pennsylvania's state laws on child abuse are expansive and found within Cons. Stat. Tit. 23 §6303 of the state's general statutes. In a broad sense, Medical neglect refers to the failure of a parent or caregiver to provide necessary medical care or treatment for a child, which could lead to serious harm or endanger the child's health. Isolating the sections that address medical abuse or neglect, some laws are summarized as follows:

  • Child abuse shall include "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly . . . "fabricating" or "intentionally exaggerating" a child's symptom or disease such that it leads to a harmful medical evaluation or treatment.
  • Serious physical neglect occurs when a parent or guardian repeatedly or egregiously fails to provide a child with adequate medical care.
  • Child abuse further includes causing, substantially contributing to, or failing to appropriately respond to a child's mental needs or conditions such that it seriously interferes with a child's ability to participate in age-appropriate activities. Some examples of this may include a child who is so anxious, depressed, withdrawn, etc., that these symptoms chronically affect their life.

Potential Consequences

Pennsylvania state law takes allegations of child abuse and neglect very seriously, and child abuse allegations are fiercely prosecuted.

If the state can prove that you negligently or deliberately failed to provide adequate medical care for your child, including inducing unnecessary medical care due to conditions such as Munchausen's Disease, you will be convicted of child abuse. Consequences for child abuse or neglect charges range from the loss of custody or parental rights of your child to excessive fines and jail sentences.

Work With Our Experienced Criminal Law Defense Team

Because child abuse charges are fiercely prosecuted, you will need the assistance of our skilled Criminal Defense Team at The LLF Law Firm to help you not only navigate the intricate medical neglect laws but also to conduct a thorough investigation into the evidence against you. Although the state may believe that they have enough evidence to successfully convict you, we will work with you to understand your family's needs and develop a defense strategy that safeguards your constitutional rights as well as your family's best interests.

Contact us any time of the day or night by calling (888) 535-3686 or by using our online contact form.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!

The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.