When Does Child Neglect Become a Crime in Tampa, Florida?
Some people mistakenly assume that child neglect is not on the same level as child abuse. However, child neglect is a form of child abuse. And, you could be facing criminal charges in some cases. If you are charged with child neglect in Florida, you need a skilled Tampa criminal attorney on your side. Contact Faulkner Law Group, PLLC, today to learn how we can help.
Florida Laws on Child Neglect
Child neglect is covered under Florida Statutes Title XLVI Chapter 827.03(e). The statute defines neglect to be:
- When a child’s caregiver omits or fails to give a child the required care, services, and supervision needed to maintain the child’s physical and mental health. These include, but are not limited to, food, nutrition, medical treatment, shelter, clothing, supervision, and medicine that any reasonable person would consider as required for a child’s well-being in their care.
- When a caregiver doesn’t take reasonable steps to keep a child from being neglected, abused, or exploited by another person.
What are the Criminal Charges in Florida for Child Neglect?
If the police arrest you for child neglect in Florida, you could be facing felony charges. Child neglect that doesn’t result in bodily harm, disability, or disfigurement will be a third-degree felony. If you are convicted, penalties could be up to five years of probation or five years in prison, and a potential fine of up to $5,000. If the child sustained great bodily harm, the charges will be a second-degree felony, which could result in penalties of up to 15 years of probation or prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Another potential consequence of a child neglect conviction is the negative impact on your parental rights, including losing custody of your children.
To successfully win a conviction, the prosecutor must prove you are guilty of child neglect beyond a reasonable doubt.
Available Defenses to Child Neglect in Florida
Don’t assume that you cannot defend child neglect charges. Given the fact there is a lot of subjectivity in determining what constitutes child neglect, you could be acquitted. However, it’s crucial to have an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney on your side. Some potential defenses to child neglect might include:
- The caregiver’s actions were negligence, not neglect;
- The defendant had a reasonable belief that the child was being supervised by someone else;
- The defendant is not the child’s caregiver and therefore not responsible for their welfare;
- The defendant made a reasonable effort to protect the child;
- There is no proof regarding the omissions and mental state of the defendant;
- The caregiver was not willfully neglectful;
- The defendant had no way of reasonably knowing that harm would occur; or
- The defendant claims that the incident in question was a misunderstanding, a mistake of fact, or an accident.
Unfortunately, some allegations of child neglect are fake reports created by people who are purposely trying to cause the defendant’s issues. Even though the reports are falsified, you are stuck defending yourself in court.
Contact a Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you are facing child neglect charges in Florida, let our experienced Tampa criminal defense lawyers represent you. Contact Faulkner Law Group, PLLC, today to schedule an initial consultation.