Aggravated Child Abuse
St. Petersburg has a high rate of violent crime compared to other Florida cities. There are about 2,000 violent crimes yearly, and unfortunately some of the victims are children. Aggravated child abuse is charged in Florida when there is child abuse, and it is conducted in such a way that the child is seriously injured or disfigured. You can be charged with aggravated child abuse even if you do not have a parental or custodial relationship to the alleged victim. In other words, what could be a felony battery when perpetrated against an adult can also be charged as aggravated child abuse when the victim is a child. Aggravated child sexual abuse can be punished harshly, but in some cases, it may be preferable to another sex crime charge that carries with it a requirement of sex offender registration. St. Petersburg aggravated child abuse lawyer Will Hanlon can help you determine a strategy that is appropriate to your situation.Situations Involving Aggravated Child Abuse
Florida Statute section 827.03(1)(a) allows a prosecutor to obtain a conviction for aggravated child abuse when they prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed an aggravated battery on a child or that you willfully tortured, maliciously punished, or caged a child or abused a child in such a way that great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement, or permanent disability was caused. This crime is a first-degree felony in Florida. This means that you face the possibility of up to 30 years’ imprisonment or 30 years’ probation, in addition to a $10,000 fine.
If convicted, the judge must sentence you to at least 48 months (four years) in prison, unless there is a basis for a downward departure. The judge has the discretion to sentence you to the statutory maximum of 30 years in prison, however.
It is a huge mistake to assume that if you do not think that you did anything wrong, you cannot be convicted. Although you may feel justifiably distressed by a child abuse investigation, it is important to retain an aggravated child abuse attorney in the St. Petersburg area who has significant experience right away, regardless of whether or not you think that you are guilty. Depending on the circumstances, there may be defenses available to you. However, most defenses should be pursued at the earliest opportunity, and even during the pre-filing process if possible.
In some cases, a good strategy is to present your version of what happened to the prosecutor during pre-filing. It may be possible to persuade the prosecutor not to file charges. For example, in some cases, what happened may have been misconstrued by the child or the person who reported the abuse. In other cases, what happened may not be as severe as what was reported. It may be possible for a St. Petersburg aggravated child abuse attorney to persuade a prosecutor to charge ordinary child abuse rather than aggravated child abuse. This is important because child abuse is a third-degree felony, rather than a first-degree felony. The charge carries a shorter prison term and lesser fines.
However, in other cases, the prosecutor may be weighing whether or not to pursue even more serious charges, such as a lewd and lascivious battery charge or a sexual battery charge. These are charges that require that you register as a sex offender or that may go toward determining whether you are required to register as a sexual predator. When you register as a sex offender in Florida, your photograph is posted so that others can recognize and be warned that you are a sex offender. This is deeply humiliating and stigmatizing. It can cost you the ability to find a place to live, a job, a professional license, or educational opportunities. It can also cost you friends and family. Failing to register as a sex offender when you are required to do so can result in further penalties. Even though there is a prison term associated with an aggravated child abuse conviction, you may be better off with this conviction than a sex crime conviction that involves prison time and also mandates that you register for the rest of your life.Hire an Aggravated Child Abuse Lawyer in St. Petersburg
If you are charged with aggravated child abuse, you should consult us. Our founder, St. Petersburg criminal attorney Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994. Contact Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or via our online form.