Child abuse charges carry the risk of serious criminal penalties and can jeopardize your parental rights. If you have been charged with child abuse or aggravated child abuse in West Palm Beach or anywhere in Florida, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your defense options. West Palm Beach child abuse lawyers can evaluate the prosecutor’s case against you, answer any questions you may have and can help you minimize the likelihood of a conviction. If you or a loved one is facing domestic charges involving a minor, contact a distinguished domestic violence attorney about your case.
Defining Abuse Offenses
Child abuse offenses are defined in Section 827.03 of the Florida Statues. Florida law distinguishes between the crime of child abuse, which requires some kind of deliberate and culpable act, and neglect of a child, which involves a failure to act on the part of a caregiver. A child is considered any person under the age of 18.
West Palm Beach child abuse lawyers have seen there are two distinct child abuse offenses–simple child abuse and aggravated child abuse. Unlike the offense of child neglect, there is no requirement that child abuse is committed by a caregiver. Under Section 39.205, it is also a crime for a person to knowingly and willfully fail to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect to the Florida Abuse Hotline when they are required to do so by law.
Common Charges of Child Abuse
The crime of simple child abuse, sometimes called felony child abuse, occurs when someone:
- Intentionally inflicts a physical or mental injury on a child
- Commits an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury on a child
- Actively encourages another person to commit an act that resulted in or could reasonably be expected to result in a physical or mental injury on a child
Simple child abuse is classified as a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. Section 827.03(1)(d) defines a mental injury as harm to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment in the ability of the child to function within the normal range of performance and behavior as supported by expert testimony.
What is Aggravated Abuse?
A person commits aggravated child abuse if someone commits:
- Aggravated battery on a child
- Willfully tortures, maliciously punishes, or willfully and unlawfully cages a child
- Knowingly or willfully abuses a child, thereby causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child.
Aggravated child abuse is classified as a first-degree felony, which carries a penalty of up to thirty years in prison and $10,000 in fines. Anyone facing these charges should contact a West Palm Beach child abuse lawyer as soon as possible.
Parental Privilege Defense
A parent or person acting in place of a parent has the right to impose reasonable physical discipline on a child that is under his or her control or authority. This is known as “parental privilege” and is an affirmative defense to simple child abuse charges. The parental privilege defense does not apply if the physical discipline results in injuries that are more serious than minor bruising. Whenever possible, a West Palm Beach child abuse lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Contact a family violence attorney today, and learn how they can assist you.