CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
Child Abuse crimes vary between Abuse or Neglect, which create physical or psychological trauma. The law punishes offenders based on the nature of the damage to the child. It criminalizes leaving a child without care just as severely as physically abusing a child. Because the Sex Crimes discussion covers Sexual Abuse, this page focuses on Abuse and Neglect.
Child Abuse Offenses
It’s best to start by understanding the definitions of Abuse and Neglect in Florida. Child Abuse means the intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child, an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child, or active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child. It doesn’t require a relationship between the child and offender.
Unlike Abuse, Neglect only punishes caregivers. Neglect constitutes a caregiver’s failure or omission to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health, including, but not 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. Caregivers must make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.
A person who knowingly and willfully abuses a child, or by culpable negligence neglects a child, without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement to the child, commits a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. There’s no penal difference between Abuse or Neglect under these circumstances.
More Serious Child Abuse Offenses
Severe damage to the child increases the possible prison sentence. A person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child and in doing so causes great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement to the child, commits a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Aggravated Child Abuse occurs when a person commits aggravated battery on a child; willfully tortures, maliciously punishes, or willfully and unlawfully cages a child; or knowingly or willfully abuses a child and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child. This is a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Because these offenses typically involve related timesharing litigation and Mr. Brown is familiar with family court matters, you should speak with him immediately. Before it’s too late, talk to him and see if he can help you best defend yourself!
While you’re here, check out this post from my blog discussing a new opinion on Florida Stand Your Ground law. Stand Your Ground immunity extends to people charged with Batteries.