Criminal charges often come along with severe stress and anxiety. The thought of facing any time in jail or prison, and the prospect of paying hefty fines or dealing with probation can be extraordinarily burdensome. The consequences of criminal charges rarely solely affect the defendant. Usually, the defendant’s spouse, children, friends, parents, and business associates are affected as well, adding to the overall stress of dealing with criminal charges. These feelings can be multiplied if you end up charged with a criminal offense that directly involves a member of your family, like domestic violence.
Charges involving children can be especially taxing. Even before you are proven guilty, a criminal charge with a child victim can serve as a dark cloud hanging over your head. You may be shunned by family, friends, and potential employers. For this reason, any time you are charged with an offense involving children, you should quickly consult a specialized St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer. Quickly retaining a criminal lawyer can sometimes make all the difference in your case.Elements of Child Neglect
One of Florida’s criminal charges that can bring about these feelings of stress and anxiety is child neglect. Florida Statute 827.03 states that a person commits a criminal offense when he or she “willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child and in doing so causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.” Under those circumstances, the offender commits a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison or fifteen years of probation. Additionally, “a person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child without causing great bodily harm” commits a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Unpacking the meaning of these criminal statutes requires a bit of work. Because these, like many criminal laws, are not straightforward or easy to understand, it is important to consult an experienced St. Petersburg criminal lawyer who can help you decipher the meaning of the law and whether you can be convicted of a violation.
In order to fully understand the child neglect laws, you must first consider the definition of “neglect” itself. The statute provides a definition that states that neglect means “a caregiver’s failure or omission to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child.”
This definition of “neglect” is obviously broad and contains a number of ways in which a person might be charged with a violation of the child neglect law. Law enforcement and prosecutors use these broad laws to their advantage to charge more and more people with violations. The broadness of the laws themselves can often make it easier for the prosecutors to convict. Conversely, a skilled St. Petersburg criminal lawyer can use the broadness of the statutory language in your defense, and can argue that the facts of your case do not justify prosecution under the law.
Florida’s child neglect statute also lists another way that “neglect” can be proven. A person can be charged with neglect when “a caregiver fails to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect or exploitation by another person.” This provision of the law creates more problems and more opportunities for abuse from the law enforcement system. Under this section, a person can be charged with the felony offense of child neglect due to the actions of another person. For example, if you are the legal guardian or parent of a child, and another person abuses or exploits a child, you yourself can be charged if the police believe that your failure to properly supervise the child helped result in their harm.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
The lawyers at Hanlon Law are here to aid you in all of your criminal defense needs. If you have found yourself in the stressful position of dealing with criminal charges, we can help. Call us today at 727.897.5413.