What is the legal definition of child abuse?
Florida statute 827.03 defines child abuse as:
- 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.
Child abuse can be either a third degree felony (called Child Abuse No Harm) punishable by up to five (5) years in state prison or a first degree felony (called Aggravated Child Abuse) punishable by up to thirty (30) years in state prison depending on the facts of the case.
Child Abuse No Harm
The child must not have great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement in order for the child abuse to be a third degree felony. This is still a serious crime because the maximum punishment is five years in prison. Often times, an experienced attorney can obtain very favorable resolutions to this charge, including a complete dismissal of the case, for lack of evidence.
Aggravated Child Abuse
- 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 the most serious child abuse charge because the injuries to the child are most severe and the accused person is facing thirty (30) years in state prison. An experienced criminal lawyer will actively investigate the facts of this case and often times will seek the expert opinion of a child abuse expert to fully determine whether this charge is warranted or if the charge should be reduced to a third degree felony, which as stated above, can often times lead to a successful resolution of the child abuse charge.
Florida statute 827.03(3)(a) defines child neglect as:
- "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
- A caregiver’s failure to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person."
Child neglect occurs when a single incident or repeated behavior "that results in, or could reasonably be expected to result in, serious physical or mental injury, or a substantial risk of death, to a child." Florida Statute 827.03(3)(a)
A person who causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement will be facing a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in state prison. If there is no great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement then the person will be facing a third degree felony punishable by up to five (5) years in state prison.
There are many defenses that can be used but often times the facts themselves will lead to a possible explanation for the parent or caregiver's action which would lead to a favorable resolution of the child neglect case.
Why You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney
Child abuse charges in Miami are inherently prejudicial against a person because the child is always viewed as an innocent person and thus, the prosecutor will always be tough on those accused of committing child abuse. Attorney Antonio Jimenez has both prosecuted and defended individuals facing child abuse and child neglect charges. He can effectively tell your side of the story.
If you or a loved one is facing child abuse, child neglect or aggravated child abuse charges it is important to retain a criminal lawyer in Miami that is going to be on your side and will stand up and defend you until the best resolution to your case is reached. Contact him today for a free phone consultation to discuss your case.