If you have been accused of child abuse or child neglect, it is important that you contact an experienced, aggressive, and skilled attorney to defend you against these serious allegations. Anthony Rickman has the skill, knowledge and experience to defend you in a child abuse or neglect case. Anthony Rickman has successfully represented clients throughout the state of Florida in all stages of child abuse and neglect cases including motions to dismiss, motions to suppress, motions to exclude expert witnesses, restraining orders, DCF investigations, and jury trials. If you have been charged with child abuse or a child related offense, do not delay, contact Anthony Rickman at The Rickman Law Firm for a free consultation.
FELONY CHILD ABUSE
In Florida, Child Abuse is a Third Degree Felony punishable by up to five years in in Florida State Prison, five years of probation and up to $5,000 in fines. Under Florida Statute 827.03(2)(c), the crime of Child Abuse is committed when a person intentionally inflicts physical or mental injury upon a child ( a person under 18 years of age); intentionally acts in a manner that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child; or Actively encourages any person to commit an act that results in, or could reasonably be expected to result in, physical or mental injury to a child.
AGGRAVATED CHILD ABUSE
The crime of Aggravated Child Abuse is a First Degree Felony punishable by up to thirty years in prison and thirty years of probation. Aggravated Child Abuse is assigned a Level 9 offense severity ranking under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. As a level 9 offense if convicted as charged the Court would be required to sentence the Defendant to mandatory prison.
To prove the charge of Aggravated Child Abuse under Florida Statute 827.03(1)(a) the State must prove that the defendant: Willfully tortured, maliciously punished, or willfully and unlawfully caged 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.
A child is defined as any person under the age of 18.
Great bodily harm defines itself as distinguished from slight, trivial, minor, or moderate harm, and as such does not include mere bruises as are likely to be inflicted in a simple assault and battery. A broken bone, a permanent scar, disfigurement, or extreme physical or mental injury could be defined as great bodily harm.
DEFENSES FOR CHILD ABUSE AND AGGRAVATED CHILD ABUSE:
If you have been accused of child abuse or aggravated child abuse it important that you have an attorney to explore all of your available defenses. Defenses to child abuse could include the following:
Parental Privilege: A parent or one standing in loco parentis (such as a teacher, family member, or caregiver) has the right to reasonably discipline a child under his or her control and authority. Therefore, a parent or person acting as the caregiver has the right to reasonably discipline a child even through physical discipline. However, if injuries more serious than minor bruising occur as a result of the discipline, the parental privilege does not apply
False Report: Child abuse is one of the most falsely reported crimes. Often times people are accused of child abuse or aggravated child abuse when they are completely innocent of the offense. Due to mandatory reporting laws in the state of Florida certain people are required to report “suspected” child abuse to the authorities, without any evidence or proof that the child has actually been abused. This requirement has resulted to many innocent people being arrested, investigated, or accused of a very serious crime that they did not commit. Another common situation when false reports are made is when the child is involved in a custody dispute or the parents are going through a divorce. In these situations one party may use an allegation of child abuse to gain an unfair advantage in another proceeding or to punish the other party. If you have been falsely accused of child abuse, do not delay. Contact Anthony Rickman for a free consultation.
Injury is related to an Accident: To prove the crime of child abuse or aggravated child abuse the state must show that the injury was caused by the abuse. As many parents know children are prone to injury. These injuries may be the result of an accident, innocent or innocent conduct. This innocent conduct or accidental injury cannot serve as the basis for a child abuse charge as the crime of child abuse requires “intent” to injure or harm on the part of the defendant.
Lack of Evidence of Great Bodily Harm (Aggravated Child Abuse): The crime of aggravated child abuse requires the state to prove that the Defendant caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child. People are sometimes accused of aggravated child abuse when no such harm was caused by the defendant. The absence of great bodily harm is a defense against a charge of aggravated child abuse.
Child Neglect is a Third Degree Felony punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison. Under Florida Statute 827.03(2)(d), the crime of Child Neglect occurs when a caregiver willfully, or by culpable negligence, fails to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child; or make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.
Caregiver: caregiver is defined as a parent, adult household member, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare. Therefore, any member of a household may be charged with child neglect or aggravated child neglect if the child was abused in the home by a third party, was injured in the home, or was not taken to the doctor for care when he/she should have been.
Neglect: Neglect of a child” means: a) a caregiver’s failure or omission to provide a child the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain a 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 b) a caregiver’s failure to make reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect or exploitation by another person. Repeated conduct or a single incident or omission by a caregiver that results in, or could reasonably be expected to result in, a substantial risk of death of a child may be considered in determining neglect.
AGGRAVATED CHILD NEGLECT
Aggravated Child Neglect is a Second Degree Felony, Punishable by up to fifteen years in Florida State Prison. The crime of Aggravated child neglect in violation of Florida Statute 827.03(2)(b), the crime of Aggravated Child Neglect occurs when a caregiver willfully or by culpable negligence fails to either (1) Failed to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child; or (2) Make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person. To prove the crime of aggravated child, neglect the state is further required to prove that as a result of the defendant’s action or inaction they, caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child.
Culpable Negligence: Each of us has a duty to act reasonably toward others. If there is a violation of that duty, without any conscious intention to harm, that violation is negligence and is not a crime. Culpable negligence is more than a failure to use ordinary care toward others, it must be gross and flagrant. Culpable negligence is a course of conduct showing reckless disregard of human life, or of the safety of persons exposed to its dangerous effects, or such an entire want of care as to raise a presumption of a conscious indifference to consequences, or which shows wantonness or recklessness, or a grossly careless disregard for the safety and welfare of the public, or such an indifference to the rights of others as is equivalent to an intentional violation of such rights. The negligent act or omission must have been committed with an utter disregard for the safety of others. Culpable negligence is consciously doing an act or following a course of conduct that the defendant must have known, or reasonably should have known, was likely to cause death or great bodily injury.
DEFENSES TO CHILD NEGLECT
Child Neglect and Aggravated Child Neglect are very serious crimes in the state of Florida. As such it is important to hire an experienced and aggressive attorney to defend you against these allegations. Anthony Rickman has successfully defended clients charged with aggravated child neglect at all stages of their cases including at Jury Trial. Conact The Rickman Law firm today to explore your defenses against this allegation. These defenses could include: (1) that you were simply negligent not culpably negligent as required by the statute (2) that you were not the cause of the injuries to the child (3) that you were not a caregiver (4) that you did not know the child needed intervention by a doctor or law enforcement (5) or that you did provide the child with the care and services necessary.
FAILURE TO REPORT CHILD NEGLECT OR CHILD ABUSE
Florida imposes a legal duty upon every person to report known or suspected acts of child abuse or neglect to authorities. Florida Statute 39.205, makes it a crime for Failure to Report Child Abuse or Neglect. Failure to report child neglect/abuse occurs when a mandatory reporter knowingly and willfully fails to report known or suspected acts of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect to the Florida Abuse Hotline. Failure to report is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison.
Mandatory Reporters: People may think that only health professionals, child welfare workers, and teachers are considered mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect. However, under Florida law a mandatory reporter is defined as any person who knows, or has reasonable suspicion to believe, that a child has been abused, abandoned, or neglected by an adult responsible for the child’s welfare. As such everyone is considered a mandatory reporter and could be charged with failure to report.
If you have been charged with failure to report child abuse, or someone you know has been charged with child abuse/neglect it is important that you contact an attorney to discuss your legal rights and options. Anthony Rickman has the ability, knowledge and experience to assist you in all stages of this case. Do not delay, contact The Rickman Law Firm today for a free consultation.