In the state of Florida, a person is guilty of child abuse if they do something to physically or mentally injure a child or actively encourage someone else to do so. Fla. Stat. §827.03(2)(c). While this may seem like a simple definition, it is often unclear to a person unfamiliar with the law as to whether certain forms of punishment meet the criteria for child abuse.
A Wellington child abuse Lawyer could help you decipher the law and ensure that your rights are protected. To begin discussing the details of a specific case, contact one of our Attorneys at Leifert & Leifert today.
How Does the Law Define Child Abuse?
Every person has a different understanding of what behaviors are considered abusive. For some, corporal punishment is a suitable way to discipline your child. To others, even lightly spanking your child is itself a form of abuse.
While corporal punishment is not expressly forbidden in Florida, excessive punishment of a child could be charged as abuse. This includes corporal punishment such as spanking that leaves marks or bruises on a child.
Potential Penalties for Committing Child Abuse
In Florida, child abuse is a serious offense that carries serious consequences. A person charged with child abuse risks more than just jail time and probation. It has the potential to affect every aspect of that person’s life. In addition to jail time, probation, and fines, a child abuse charge can affect a person’s ability to work in certain professions. If the person accused of abuse has children of their own, it can also affect the custody placement of their children.
A conviction of child abuse can also affect the ability to work in certain professions, particularly those where children are likely to be present. For example, a child abuse conviction will disqualify an alleged abuser from being able to obtain a teaching license in the state of Florida. Considering what is at stake, it is important to retain the services of a child abuse Attorney in Wellington when charged with this type of offense.
Factors Which Could Impact Sentencing for Child Abuse in Wellington
When child abuse is suspected, an investigation will be performed with the Police and Child Protective Services working closely together to determine whether abuse occurred. If evidence of abuse is found, criminal charges may be brought against the alleged perpetrator.
If convicted of child abuse, the sentence will vary depending on the severity of the child’s injuries:
- Child abuse that does not cause serious bodily injury to the child is a third-degree Felony, which could mean up to five years in prison if there is no serious bodily in Jury to the child
- Child neglect that causes serious bodily injury to the child is a second-degree Felony, which could mean up to 15 years in prison
- Child abuse that results in serious bodily injury to the child is a first-degree Felony, which could mean up to 30 years in prison
In addition to prison time, a child abuse charge also has the potential to affect a person’s right to custody of their children. Under Florida law, any time there is reason to believe that a child has been abused, child protective services will intervene to ensure the safety of the both the abused child and any children of the alleged abuser. Fla. Stat. §39.01. If the alleged abuser has children, this could mean a loss of custody.
Get in Touch with a Wellington Child Abuse Attorney
If you or someone you love has been charged with child abuse in the state of Florida, it is important to have a qualified Attorney at Leifert & Leifert on your side. A Wellington child abuse Lawyer can help guide you through the process to ensure that your rights are protected.