Aggravated Child Abuse Charges In Florida

Aggravated Child Abuse Charges in Florida Hanlon Law Bradenton February 26 2024In Florida, one of the most aggressively prosecuted crimes and charges involve children and child abuse. Facing child abuse accusations in the state involves severe ramifications if convicted. If an allegation that gives rise to a charge of aggravated child abuse is made against you, the police and the Department of Children and Family Services will get involved.

It is vital that you understand your charges and what potential consequences you might face if convicted. Read on to learn more about aggravated child abuse.

What is Aggravated Child Abuse?

It is important to note that there are three types of criminal child abuse in the state; simple child abuse, child neglect, and aggravated child abuse. Aggravated child abuse is considered the most serious child abuse charge in Florida as it involves more severe injuries, and it is a charge that is most difficult to defend.

In Florida, the accusation of aggravated child abuse occurs when there is the intentional infliction of mental or physical harm or injury on the child. It could also involve committing a deliberate action resulting in mental or physical damage or injury.

The prosecutor must prove that the accused maliciously punished, illegally caged, or willfully tortured a minor to establish an aggravated child abuse charge. It also falls under this charge if the child suffers from great bodily harm or permanent disability.

Bodily harm pertains to scars, broken bones, extreme mental injuries, and disfigurement. The law does not require that aggravated child abuse be committed by a parent or guardian of the victim. The victim’s age is the main thing that separates an aggravated child abuse charge from felony battery.

What Are The Differences Between Aggravated Child Abuse, Child Abuse, and Child Neglect?

As mentioned, three types of child abuse are recognized in Florida; child abuse, child neglect, and aggravated child abuse. If you are accused of mistreating your child, you must know the differences between these terms.

Child Abuse

An individual commits child abuse when they:

  • Intentionally cause mental or physical harm to a child.
  • Knowingly and intentionally engaging in behavior or action that could physically or mentally injure a child.
  • Encourage another person to commit behavior that can physically or mentally harm a child.

Child Neglect

An individual commits child neglect when they:

  • Fail to provide the child with supervision, care, and services required to maintain their health. It may include nutrition, shelter, food, medicine, and more.
  • Fail to make an effort to protect the child from being neglected, abused, or exploited.

Aggravated Child Abuse

An individual commits aggravated child abuse when they:

  • Commit aggravated battery on the child.
  • Knowingly or willfully abused a child, leading to great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.
  • Maliciously punished, willfully tortured, or illegally caged a child.

What Are the Penalties for Aggravated Child Abuse?

Aggravated child abuse is considered a first-degree felony in the state of Florida. The accused can face up to thirty years in prison, thirty years of probation, or a $10,000 fine if convicted.

Under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code, this charge falls under the Level 9 offense severity ranking. Suppose there is no basis or grounds for downward departure — the judge is required to sentence an individual convicted with aggravated child abuse to a minimum of 48 months imprisonment, with the maximum sentence being 30 years.

What Are the Defenses for Aggravated Child Abuse?

In addition to pretrial and trial defenses raised during the criminal case, parental privilege is a specific defense to aggravated child abuse. Under Florida law, parental privilege is an affirmative defense that may shield an accused from criminal liability for child abuse, granted that it does not cause serious injury.

Parental privilege is the right of the parent or standing in loco parentis to chastise or reasonably discipline a child under their control or authority. It means a parent has the right to administer ‘non-excessive’ or ‘reasonable’ corporal punishment without committing a crime.

Therefore, physically restraining or striking a child is not considered child abuse when the injury is bruising, a minor or temporary injury that does not meet the definition of great bodily harm.

Another common defense is accidental injury. Few children are more likely to suffer injuries from banging into objects than others for many innocent reasons that do not involve child abuse. Simply put, there are just children that are more accident-prone than others.

False claims are also a possible defense. Unfortunately, it commonly arises in situations like custody battles or bitter divorces. One parent will attempt to take advantage by claiming that the other either permitted or committed physical abuse.

Given the crime’s nature, it is hard to prove that it is not intentional. It is why aggravated child abuse charges are one of the hardest to defend in court.

How Does an Aggravated Child Abuse Conviction Affect Your Parental Rights?

If you have an aggravated child abuse conviction, incarceration and fines are not just among your worries. A conviction can impact your parental rights.

The court can terminate your parental rights if convicted of aggravated child abuse or any form of child abuse. These rights can pertain to your right to decide your child’s upbringing. You may also lose the right to spend time and communicate with them.

In most cases, parental rights termination is irrevocable and permanent. That means you will lose your parental rights forever if convicted.

Seek Legal Representation Today

A lot is on the line when you are involved in a child abuse case, which is why you shouldn’t face it alone. An aggravated child abuse charge, in particular, is a serious charge that can lead to significant legal consequences.

If charged with aggravated child abuse, seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney today. These charges are aggressively prosecuted in the state, so you need to get legal counsel as early as possible. Our lawyers at Hanlon Law are skilled and competent and can help you form a defense strategy to contest the charge or reduce and minimize the potential penalties you might face if convicted.

Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you and what options are available. Hanlon Law is here to help!

Hanlon Law
1111 3rd Ave W Ste 310
Bradenton, FL 34205
(941) 253-0254

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Attorney Will Hanlon
Attorney Will Hanlonhttps://www.criminalattorneytampa.net/
As a native Floridian and criminal defense attorney, my family history in Tampa spans generations. Since being admitted to The Florida Bar almost 20 years ago, I founded Hanlon Law and have gained extensive legal experience in criminal courtrooms in and around Tampa and throughout Florida.

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