Child abuse allegations are prevalent, but not always legitimate. Often, ill-informed neighbors or other community members report suspected abuse to authorities without knowing all the facts. Florida takes reports of child abuse seriously and diligently prosecutes people in cases where there is reason to suspect abuse. Child abuse and neglect penalties are severe, including prison time, fines, and a lasting criminal record, not to mention devastation to the family.
If you or a loved one is facing accusations of child abuse, contact our child abuse defense lawyers in Bradenton, FL. Goldman Wetzel can fight for your rights and provide the legal counsel and representation you need to successfully navigate the criminal justice system. Call our office today at 941-405-5193 and request a free consultation.
Does Goldman Wetzel Take Child Abuse Cases in Bradenton?
Our attorneys focus their practice on defending people in Florida charged with all types of crimes, from white collar to violent. We serve clients in Bradenton and throughout the state, including those facing serious state or federal charges such as child abuse. Other related cases we accept include:
- Aggravated child abuse
- Child neglect
- Leaving a child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle
- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
- Child pornography
The Goldman Wetzel team has over three decades of combined experience in both prosecution and defense. Our team has handled countless child abuse cases and knows how to develop strong, viable defense strategies. Call us to learn more about how we can defend your rights, protect your future, and fight for a positive outcome.
What Constitutes Child Abuse in Florida?
Florida Statute § 827.03(1)(b) defines child abuse as:
“1. Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child;
2. An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child; or
3. 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.”
The Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) expounds on this definition, providing that to constitute abuse, the act must have been a willful or threatened act and either resulted in harm or significantly impaired the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health.
According to the DCF, disciplinary corporal punishment (e.g., spanking) “does not constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child.”
What Are the Penalties for Child Abuse?
Child abuse and neglect are serious felony offenses. Florida classifies child abuse crimes according to the severity of the harm:
General Child Abuse
For simple child abuse in which no serious harm befalls the child, the state considers the offense a third-degree felony, which includes up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Child neglect is any failure or omission to provide a child with the “care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health.” According to Florida Statute § 827.03, this includes “food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child.” Neglect also includes “a caregiver’s failure to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.”
Child neglect is a second-degree felony, which includes up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Aggravated Child Abuse
Aggravated child abuse includes:
- Aggravated battery;
- Willful torture or malicious punishment;
- Willful or unlawful caging of a child;
- Willful abuse of a child that causes “great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.”
The state upgrades this offense to a first-degree felony.
This significantly increases the penalties, resulting in up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
What Are Some Examples of Defenses to Child Abuse?
Various defenses can effectively overcome child abuse charges. When you work with our firm, we will review the facts of the case and determine which defense techniques would work best. For example, if the victim is a violent teenager, self-defense may be a viable defense. Other defenses to child abuse include:
- Insufficient evidence;
- The defendant did not cause physical or mental injury to the child;
- The incident was accidental, not intentional; and
- The allegations are false (to create your defense, we will examine your case for any potential sources of false accusations).
Case law involving an affirmative defense referred to as parental privilege may also be useful in child abuse allegations. Parents have the authority — and legal provision — to reasonably discipline their children.
The District Court of Appeal of Florida noted in Raford v. State that a parent or someone standing in for the parent “does not commit a crime by inflicting corporal punishment on a child subject to his authority, if he remains within the legal limits of the exercise of that authority.”
How Can Goldman Wetzel Help with Child Abuse Accusations?
Our team of caring, qualified criminal defense attorneys can give you the effective representation you need when facing child abuse charges. We will zealously defend against the charges and take the appropriate steps toward the best possible outcome, be that dropped charges, a plea bargain, lesser penalties, or an acquittal.
Attorneys Summer Goldman and Maribeth Wetzel work together on each case and make themselves available to answer any questions you may have. As the state aggressively seeks convictions for people accused of child abuse, we will step in and ensure the authorities and court hear your side of the story. Rest assured, we will provide stalwart defense and stand by your side through each step of the process until the case resolves.