Child abuse and neglect, two very serious felony offenses in Florida, bring harsh punishments if convicted. Given the sensitive nature of these types of cases and the public’s demand for child safety, the state diligently prosecutes anyone suspected of child abuse.
If you have been accused of child abuse, consult our child abuse defense lawyers in Tampa, FL straightaway. Your future, freedom, and family are on the line. Our team at Goldman Wetzel can provide the robust, aggressive representation you need when facing such scary charges. Call 888-727-4652 and speak to one of our criminal attorneys today.
Florida’s Definitions of Child Abuse & Neglect
Florida Statute § 827.03 defines and criminalizes the offenses related to child abuse. Generally, abuse is any willful act that causes physical, mental, or sexual harm to the child. Depending on the situation, defendants may face one or more charges. The law provides the following definitions:
1. ”Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child;”
2. A deliberate act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological harm 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.”
Aggravated Child Abuse
1. Aggravated battery on a child;
2. Willful torture, malicious punishment, or willful and unlawful caging of a child; or
3. Known or willful abuse of a child that causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child.
1. ”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; or
2. A caregiver’s failure to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.”
Potential Penalties for Child Abuse
The penalties you may face depend on the severity of the offense:
|Child Abuse||Third-degree felony||Five years in prison and a $5,000 fine|
|Neglect without “great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement”||Third-degree felony||Five years in prison and a $5,000 fine|
|Neglect that causes “great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement”||Second-degree felony||15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine|
|Aggravated Child Abuse||First-degree felony||30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine|
Other consequences will follow. Social services will conduct a thorough investigation, and the state might take your children or make you take parenting classes. Even just being the subject of a child abuse investigation can damage family dynamics and destroy your reputation.
If you have questions about your charges, what you are up against, or a pending investigation, contact our office and schedule a free meeting.
Factors that Affect Child Abuse Cases
Child abuse cases involve various factors that make them challenging and complicated. Older youth may claim abuse out of retaliation against their parents for disciplining them. Well-meaning people may call authorities and report abuse without knowing all the facts. Parents or other caregivers may cause harm unintentionally and feel genuinely remorseful.
Below are additional factors that commonly affect child abuse and neglect cases:
- Parental rights: Parents have the right to discipline their children — and this discipline includes spanking. This right, referred to as “parental privilege,” often arises in child abuse cases.
- Vague definitions: Unfortunately, the vague definitions in the statutes make it easier to accuse and convict someone of child abuse.
The Goldman Wetzel defense attorneys understand the mechanics of child abuse cases and how to fight the charges head-on. We will protect your rights and present the facts clearly and convincingly. To strengthen your case, our team will also compile supporting evidence to negate the charges and work to clear your name of erroneous accusations.
Defenses to Child Abuse Accusations
We will explore available defenses once we learn more about your case. Examples of arguments that may work in a child abuse or neglect case include:
- False allegations
- Parental privilege
- Insufficient evidence
- The incident does not constitute abuse or neglect
- The harm was unintentional
Goldman Wetzel Can Help Fight Child Abuse & Neglect Charges
With more than 30 years of combined experience handling cases for both the prosecution and defense, the Goldman Wetzel team has honed the skills and strategies to manage even the most challenging child abuse cases. We accept any domestic violence or battery case, including those involving child abuse, aggravated child abuse, and child neglect.
When you enlist our help, you can count on us to:
- Carefully investigate the facts of the case and collect supporting evidence;
- Fight to either avoid charges altogether or to get the case dropped or acquitted or the penalties reduced;
- Comb through the state’s case and identify errors, gaps, or inconsistencies;
- Discuss legal options with you and take your input seriously;
- Explain the best- and worst-case scenarios;
- Come fully prepared to represent you at all hearings;
- Keep you informed each step of the way; and
- See your case through to the end, serving as your legal advocates and advisors.
Consult Our Child Abuse Defense Lawyers in Tampa, FL
Child abuse charges can threaten everything that is important to you. The sooner you put our defense team on the case, the more time we will have to build a strong case. Regardless of what stage of the case you are currently in — whether the state has already filed charges, you want to switch from public to private counsel, or social services is just beginning its investigation — Goldman Wetzel can help.
Contact our office at 888-727-4652 to learn more about how our child abuse defense lawyers in Tampa can help you and your family.