Charges of child abuse and neglect are very serious and need to be aggressively defended. Intentionally or negligently harming a child is a serious crime, but all too often there is a rush to judgment in these unfortunate cases. People who become targets for false accusations find themselves navigating a legal minefield where anything they say can be twisted and used against them. Also, the definitions of abuse and neglect can be broadly interpreted. The best chance to minimize the potential damage of abuse and neglect charges is a swift and certain defense by an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call 407-644-2466 for a free consultation with the Rivas Law Firm.
Florida Child Abuse and Neglect Law
Florida Statute 827.03 defines Child Abuse as the “Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child.” But people sometimes make accusations against conscientious parents or caregivers who may have made a bad decision under stressful circumstances. Perhaps an overburdened mother accidentally left a gate unlocked. Or maybe the everyday stress of making a living and raising a family led to cruel remarks or regrettable actions. Although the charges are most often brought against parents and caregivers, anyone who is seen as having brought harm to a child can be charged.
The law defines “Neglect of a child” as:
- A caregiver’s failure or omission to provide a child with the care, supervision, and servicesnecessarytomaintainthechild’sphysicalandmentalhealth,including,butnot limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child;or
- Acaregiver’sfailuretomakeareasonableefforttoprotectachildfromabuse, neglect, or exploitation by anotherperson.
Defense Against Child Abuse and Neglect Charges in Florida
Prosecutors have wide discretion in these cases. Conviction on child neglect or abuse charges is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, plus probation and a $5,000 fine. If the case involves serious injuries of a young child, a prosecutor may bring more serious charges. Aggravated Child Abuseis a first-degree felony with a sentence of 30 years in prison. Aggravated Child Neglectis a second-degree felony that carries a 15-year prison sentence.
There are many ways that an experienced criminal defense lawyer can fight child abuse and child neglect charges. For instance, to convict someone of aggravated abuse or neglect, a prosecutor must prove that a defendant acted willfully and maliciously. In other words, it may come down to a matter of intent, which could be difficult to prove. Also, in certain situations, a jury may be informed that “It is not a crime for a parent or a person who is acting in place of a parent of a child to impose reasonable physical discipline on a child for misbehavior under the circumstances even though physical injury resulted from the discipline.”
A good lawyer will thoroughly investigate your situation and wage a vigorous defense tailored to the unique circumstances of your case. If you’ve been charged with a crime in Florida, you’ll want the best criminal defense lawyer you can get. Consider the Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Rivas Law firm. Call 407-644-2466 for a free consultation.