Child Abuse Or Neglect Charges In Okaloosa County, Florida

What are the elements and potential penalties for felony Child Abuse in Florida?

Child abuse is actually quite similar to the crime of Battery, except that the age of the alleged victim is under the age of 18. This delineation is what enhances the offense from a misdemeanor to a serious felony. In my experience as a prosecutor and defense attorney, the potential for criminal charges arise when corporal punishment leaves a physical and evidentiary mark on the child. If a mandated reporter like a teacher, doctor, or social worker sees such a sign of excessive discipline, they are required to call the Florida abuse hotline and/or law enforcement to make a report.

Here are the potential charges for child abuse based on the circumstances and the potential penalties.

Child Abuse Without Great Bodily Harm (3rd Degree Felony)

  • Intentional Crime
  • Based on Actual Physical, Emotional, or Mental Injury
  • Child-Under Age 18
  • Punishable by up to 5 years in prison

Aggravated Child Abuse With Great Bodily Harm (1st Degree Felony)

  • Intentional Crime
  • Based on Actual Great Bodily Injury, Permanent Disability or Disfigurement
  • May also be based on Willful Torture, Malicious Punishment, or Unlawful Caging of a Child
  • Child-Under Age 18
  • Punishable by up to 30 years in prison

What are the elements and potential penalties of felony Child Neglect?

Some people may be confused as to the difference between Child Abuse and Child Neglect, when in fact they are quite easy to differentiate. Simply put, Child Abuse is generally the more serious of the two and is considered an act of “commission” while Child Neglect is one of “omission.” More specifically, Child Abuse requires an intentional and specific act on the part of the defendant which would equate to physical abuse; whereas, Child Neglect occurs when a parent or caregiver fails to provide for the child’s physical, mental, educational, and medical needs.

This includes the failure to provide any of the following:

  1. Adequate Food and Nutrition and Clean Drinking Water
  2. Safe and Sanitary Housing and Reasonable, Appropriate Clothing
  3. Satisfactory Child Supervision
  4. Sufficient Medical Care and Prescription Medications (if needed)
  5. Sufficient Psychological and Education Services (if needed)

Here are the potential charges for child neglect based on the circumstances and the potential penalties.

Child Neglect without great bodily harm (3rd Degree Felony)-punishable by up to 5 years prison.

  • Only Parent or Caregiver may be charged.
  • Child-Under 18
  • Result of Neglect-No Injury Required, only proof of failure to provide for child’s needs

Child Neglect with great bodily harm (2nd Degree Felony)-punishable by up to 15 years prison.

  • Only Parent or Caregiver may be charged.
  • Child-Under 18
  • Result of Neglect-Great Bodily Harm, Serious Injury, Permanent Disability or Disfigurement
    • Obviously, these are serious charges with serious potential consequences. They are also the types of charges where having an experienced attorney by your side can make a huge difference. Many times it is possible to get Child Neglect charges reduced or dismissed through pretrial intervention or diversion in Okaloosa County. It is also possible to establish a legal defense through the inability of the prosecution to prove with sufficient specificity exactly how the child suffered from neglect.

      I have the knowledge and experience to help you work toward the best possible result in your child abuse or child neglect criminal case. Call me at (850) 362-6655 for a free consultation.