Child Neglect Attorney in Tampa, FL
Every parent does her best to care for her children, but sometimes things slip out of our hands and our children don’t receive the care we mean to give them. This can lead to child neglect charges, which can be very serious and in some cases can carry substantial prison time. It is never wise to try to deal with child neglect charges without a qualified defense attorney on your side.
If you or a loved one are facing child neglect charges in the Tampa, FL, area, call Armando Edmiston, an experienced Tampa child neglect criminal defense lawyer, today.
Child Neglect Defined in Tampa, FL
Under Florida law, child neglect is a failure or omission by a child’s caregiver to give the child the care, supervision and services needed to maintain physical and mental health. It is also child neglect for the caregiver to fail to make a reasonable effort to protect the child from abuse, neglect or exploitation by others. Prosecution for child neglect is typically based on a pattern of behavior, but where a single instance of neglect caused or could reasonably have been expected to cause serious injury or substantial risk of death, that instance alone can be enough to convict. This is often the case with instances of child abandonment, though Florida’s safe haven law protects parents who drop their newborns off at hospitals, emergency medical stations and firehouses within seven days of birth. Child neglect is a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison when it is committed willfully or with culpable negligence (negligence so extreme it is considered criminal) but does not cause great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement. There is no minimum sentence requirement for child neglect, but injuries to the child and prior criminal offenses can add up to mandatory prison time, as can other factors.
Aggravated Child Neglect in Tampa, FL
A more serious kind of neglect, known informally as “aggravated child neglect,” occurs when a person neglects a child willfully or with culpable negligence and causes great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement. This is a second-degree felony punishable by as many as 15 years. A mandatory minimum 21-month prison sentence applies, with more mandatory time tacked on for victim injuries and prior criminal history.
Crimes Similar to Child Neglect in Tampa, FL
Florida has several statutes on the book that address problems similar to child neglect. These include a law against leaving a child younger than six unattended in a car. Leaving a child unattended for longer than 15 minutes is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 60 days in jail; leaving a child unattended for any length of time while the engine is running or while the child’s health is in danger is a traffic violation similar to a speeding ticket. If a child younger than six suffers great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement as a result of being left alone in a car, the parent, guardian or other responsible adult who left him there may be convicted of a third-degree felony punishable by as many as five years in prison. It is also a crime to contribute to the dependency of a child. A dependent child is a child who has been removed from her home by the Department of Children and Families. It is a first-degree misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of one year in jail, to do anything that causes a child to become dependent, encourages dependency or contributes to it, or to induce a child to do anything that leads or contributes to dependency.