Over 34,000 children are victims of child abuse in the state of Florida. Parents are obligated to care for their children, regardless of which state or country they live in. However, it is important to understand that each state has different laws when it comes to what is considered child abuse or neglect.
When parents neglect their children, the state can get involved to protect the child’s welfare. In some cases, an attorney may be necessary to help advocate for the child and ensure that their best interests are represented. This article will explore how an attorney in Sarasota, Florida can help in a child neglect case.
What Constitutes Child Neglect?
According to Florida Statute 827.03, neglect is referred to as the failure of their parent or caregiver to provide basic necessities for a child, such as clothing, food, medical care, shelter, or supervision. Neglect can also occur when a caregiver fails to reasonably protect a child from abuse from another person. For example, neglect is when a child is left in an unsafe environment, such as being left home alone or with an abusive sibling.
In Florida, neglect is also considered mental or emotional abuse. This can include repeatedly telling a child that they are worthless, making them feel isolated or unloved, or subjecting them to severe punishment.
Simple negligence is the failure to act in a reasonable manner that is consistent with the standard care of a caregiver. Though this is neglect of a child, it does not constitute the crime of child neglect in Florida. The state may step in to ensure the child is being adequately cared for, but criminal charges will not be levied against the caregiver.
To be charged with child neglect, a person’s actions must be gross and flagrant, with utter disregard for the safety of another person. This means the person must have reasonably known that their actions would cause great harm – sometimes death – to the child.
Consequences of Child Neglect
The penalties for child neglect vary depending on the severity of the situation. If neglect turns into abuse, those charges will be heavier than just neglect.
Child neglect that does not cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child is classified as a third-degree felony. This is punishable by up to five years in prison or five years on probation and a $5,000 fine.
Child neglect that does cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child is classified as a second-degree felony. This is punishable by up to 15 years in prison or 15 years on probation and a $10,000 fine.
Legal Defenses for Child Neglect Cases
Child neglect accusations can be difficult to navigate because of the emotional aspect behind it. However, a person is innocent until proven guilty, and a criminal defense attorney can help the accused navigate the legal environment. There is a lot of subjectivity in Florida’s child neglect cases, so there are multiple defenses an attorney can use to help if you are accused of neglecting your child:
- The defendant is not the child’s caregiver and thus not responsible for the welfare of the child
- The defendant’s actions were not willful or flagrant to warrant a gross negligence charge
- The defendant had reason to believe that the child was under the care of another person
- The defendant could not have reasonably known harm would have come to the child
- The defendant reasonably tried to protect the child
- There is a lack of evidence to the mental state, actions or negligence of the defendant
- The accusation was false and came from people who don’t agree with the parenting styles of the parents or caregivers
- The defendant argues that the incident was an accident or a misunderstanding of the facts
Child neglect laws and charges are meant to protect vulnerable children from neglectful or abusive adults charged with caring for the child. These laws are not meant to punish parents or caregivers for momentary lapses of judgment or action. If you find yourself accused of this crime, hiring a defense attorney can help you build your case and defend your rights.
How Can An Attorney Help in a Child Neglect Case?
The attorneys at Hanlon Law have years of experience handling child neglect cases. If you or someone you know is facing a child neglect charge, reach out to our skilled legal team. We understand these cases are emotional and we’re able to handle each situation with care and guidance. You deserve a strong legal team who can defend your case and protect your rights.
Contact us today to set up a free consultation about defending your rights in a child neglect case.
1605 Main St Ste 1115
Sarasota, FL 34236