There is considerable tension in the role of the law in the relationship between parents and children. Courts give parents considerable leeway to care for and discipline a child as they see fit. However, parents do not have the right to inflict physical discipline that causes permanent or serious harm or to allow other people to do so.
When a family has challenges for caring for their children, the Florida Department of Children and Families may supervise the family for a time and provide services to help them learn to function better. However, sometimes it seems that children are physically harmed in their home, and in those cases, criminal charges may be brought.
If you are facing criminal charges regarding your treatment of a child, consult an experienced Attorney at Leifert & Leifert as soon as possible. People react strongly to the perceived abuse of the vulnerable, especially children, but a Tequesta child endangerment Lawyer could present the facts in a way that tempers that emotion and allows the prosecutor and the jury to see you as a vulnerable human being, too.
When the Law Intervenes
The right to raise children is a fundamental right, and parents have the right to discipline their children and even treat them harshly without fear of government interference. However, there is an increased awareness in the culture of the potential harm of child abuse, and many people are “mandated reporters”—people who face criminal charges if they fail to report suspected child abuse. As a result, Florida’s Department of Children and Families receives thousands of abuse reports each year.
Although Florida does not have a statute making child endangerment an offense, Florida Statute Title XLVI, § 827.03, defines aggravated child abuse. The concept of child endangerment is folded into this definition. Although most people charged with aggravated child abuse have a parental relationship to the injured child, any adult committing the defined acts on a minor could face charges under this law. Acts of aggravated child abuse may involve:
- Using a deadly weapon in battering a child
- Willfully torturing, caging, or maliciously punishing a child
- Intentionally abusing a child causing severe injuries, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement
Defenses That Might Generate Reasonable Doubt
Endangering a child through aggravated child abuse is a first-degree felony, and a conviction could mean a minimum of 48 months in prison. The maximum sentence is 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Thus, it is critically important that a criminal defense Attorney bring all their skills to bear to help the client avoid these harsh penalties.
A Prosecutor must show that the adult’s actions were intentional, willful, or malicious. They must prove that there was no reasonable explanation or valid excuse for the adult’s behavior, and that the adult intended to harm the child. This is a high bar for a prosecutor to meet and allows a savvy defense Lawyer room to persuade a Judge or jury that the prosecutor is over-reaching.
A criminal defense Lawyer could present evidence that tended to show that the adult’s actions were not intentional, or that there was an explanation for the alleged acts and that they were reasonable under the circumstances. A defense Lawyer also might question whether the injuries were significant enough to support an aggravated child abuse charge.
Contact a Tequesta Child Endangerment Attorney Today
Criminal charges alleging that an adult endangered or harmed a child are some of the most difficult to defend, but the situation is not hopeless by any means. Prosecutors may react emotionally to offenses involving children and over-reach when bringing charges. An experienced criminal Attorney at Leifert & Leifert might expect this and present proof that counters one or more of the essential elements of the crime.
Make sure you have a savvy, committed legal professional working for you. Call a Tequesta child endangerment Lawyer today for a free consultation to discuss your case.