Peters And Hodges Have “Cruelty To Children” Charges Dismissed Following Defense Investigation And Review By Forensic Pathologist

Defendant hired Mr. Peters and Mr. Hodges when Defendant and her fiancé were arrested for spanking and causing injury to Defendant’s 8-year-old son. Photographs showed extensive “bruising” on the child’s buttocks. A medical examination concluded the bruising was consistent with a vicious beating. Defendant and her fiancé gave statements to the GBI, and each admitted to spanking the child. In addition to the State’s criminal prosecution, Defendant’s ex-husband filed a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) against Defendant’s fiancé, and a Petition for Change of Custody against Defendant; and Defendant was ordered to have no contact with her son at all.

Prior to receiving discovery, Defense Counsel gathered everything possible to understand the case: Defendant’s narrative about what happened the night of the spanking; all the history between Defendant and her ex-husband; photographs she had of her son’s injuries; records of all the phone calls and text messages between Defendant, her ex-husband, and her fiancé about the incident; all of her son’s medical records, counseling records, and school records; and all of the documents filed in the TPO and Custody cases. Defense Counsel visited Defendant’s home, examining and photographing where the alleged incident occurred.

To show that Defendant was a good parent, Defense Counsel had Defendant take a Parental Fitness Evaluation (PFE) with a Licensed Psychologist, who concluded that Defendant was a perfectly fit parent and low risk for family violence. Defense Counsel also had Defendant complete parenting classes to show she was eager to learn new skills and improve.

When Defense Counsel finally obtained and studied the State’s discovery, they learned that everything in the case indicated that Defendant did spank her son, but that even her son claimed the spanking was “not that hard” and “did not hurt.”

Defense Counsel shared all the case materials with a forensic pathologist who concluded that the child’s injuries were not consistent with excessive force.

After more than a year, Defense Counsel presented its case to the prosecutor, who subsequently dropped the felony charge and allowed Defendant to plead to misdemeanor Simple Battery under the First Offender Act. After 12 months of probation, Defendant will receive a full exoneration, her plea will be discharged, there will be no conviction on her record, and the record of her arrest will be restricted.