Clearwater Child Abuse Lawyer
Child abuse is a crime under Florida law, but it can be quite subjective. A child is considered anyone under the age of 18. A caregiver is a household family member who has authority over the child. There is no requirement that the defendant be a parent or someone who has a custodial relationship with the child. For this reason, simple battery charges can sometimes be charged as child abuse if specific conditions are met. The prosecutor will decide which crime they want to pursue. Contact our experienced Clearwater child abuse defense lawyer today for more information.
What constitutes child abuse in Florida?
Florida Statutes §827.03 defines child abuse as an intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child. In addition to some of the more well-recognized forms of child abuse, this also includes crimes like:
- Aggravated battery
- Baby shaking
- Unlawfully caging a child
- DUI with a child in the vehicle
- Physical abuse that results in disability
- Physical abuse that results in more than simple bruising
Child abuse charges are always felonies. The weakest charge that the prosecution can pursue is a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 5 years in state prison. Depending on the circumstances of the alleged crime, some forms of child abuse can be charged as first-degree felonies, which are punishable by up to 30 years behind bars.
Defenses to child abuse
Parental privilege is the one defense afforded to those accused of child abuse under the law. A parent retains the right to punish the child in accord with their own values. This means that a parent can strike their child as a form of punishment; however, if an injury occurs more than redness, such as bruising, broken skin or broken bones, the parent can face criminal charges.
Sometimes, alleged child abuse charges occur as a result of horseplay accidents between siblings, friends or parents and children. When this happens, it does not constitute child abuse. The prosecution must prove that the abuse was intentional—not the result of a roughhousing accident.
Sometimes in extremely bitter divorces, one party will accuse the other of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of the children. When this occurs, judges often wonder why the accuser didn’t mention the situation earlier in the divorce. Nonetheless, the police must take the accusations seriously and investigate.
Neglect charges are different because they make accusations against a defendant for what they did not do. In other words, the prosecution alleges negligence against the defendant and not willful malice. The severity of a child neglect charge will depend on how egregious the child’s injuries are. Child neglect charges can be filed whether or not the child suffered great bodily harm.
Neglect charges can be very tricky. Prosecutors can use evidence of malnutrition, failure to take a child to the doctor right away, or DUI with children in the car as evidence against a defendant to prove child neglect.
Talk to a Clearwater Child Abuse Defense Lawyer Today
If you are facing charges of child abuse in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, Tampa or anywhere else in the Tampa Bay area, call the criminal defense team at King Law Group today and allow us to begin preparing your defense immediately. We can help.