Are you being charged, in Palm Beach County, Florida with child abuse? We are child abuse attorneys located in West Palm Beach. When you are arrested for child abuse you want a lawyer that understands and practices in this area of law. Don’t hire a lawyer that dabbles in the art of criminal defense, hire a criminal defense attorney that has extensive experience in child abuse cases. Your attorney needs to have knowledge and experience but also needs to know the players. Knowing the players comes from years of being inside the courtroom. Finding the best criminal defense attorney in Palm Beach County, for your case, is difficult. You need to review their educational background, experience in criminal cases, their reputation in the community, and their ability to communicate with you, the client. The quality of the criminal defense attorney you hire to defend your child abuse case is extremely important. We ask that you consider our South Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys.
Proverbs 13:24 says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” People follow this proverb because they love their children and that is where spanking gets them into trouble.
The charge of child abuse is a serious charge. Just having the arrest could mean you lose your job and have a hard time finding another while the case is pending. Even if the charges are dropped, there will still be a stigma attached to you in the community.
To make matters worse, someone from Florida’s Department of Child and Families will most likely come to your house and investigate. If you happen to have an over-zealous investigator and a police officer working with the investigator, you could have more problems such as the investigator trying to take away your children.
Florida Statute 827.03(2)(c) - Child Abuse
Child abuse is where the child is abused but it does not result in the great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child. Child abuse can be committed by someone who is not related to the child or does not have a custodial or parental authority. See Pena v. State.
Most people think spanking is a crime. Worse yet, over-zealous DCF investigators think it is and will seek to try and convince police that you are committing a crime. It is not a crime for a parent to impose reasonable physical discipline for misbehavior on a child even though physical injury resulted. See Lanier v. State.
What the State Prosecutor Has to Prove to Convict a Defendant of This Crime
The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant knowingly or willfully:
- Intentionally inflicted physical or mental injury upon the child;
- Committed an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to the child;
- Actively encouraged another person to commit an act that resulted in or could reasonably have been expected to result in physical or mental injury to child;
- The child was under the age of 18 years.
This crime is a third-degree felony which is punishable up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. It is ranked level 5 under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code.
Florida Statute 827.03(2)(a) – Aggravated Child Abuse
This is child abuse taken to the next level. This child abuse results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child or the child is caged, maliciously punished, or willfully tortured.
What the State Prosecutor has to Prove to Convict a Defendant of This Crime
The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant:
- Committed aggravated battery upon the child victim;
- Willfully tortured child victim;
- Maliciously punished child victim;
- Willfully and unlawfully caged child victim; or
- Knowingly or willfully committed child abuse upon the child victim and in so doing caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child victim;
- The child victim was under the age of 18 years.
Maliciously means wrongfully, intentionally, and without legal justification or excuse. For example, spanking a child for discipline is legal, but spanking/beating a child just for fun is illegal because there was no justification.
This crime is a first-degree felony which is punishable up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. It is ranked 9 out of 10 under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code.
These crimes can be defended. Children tell stories and sometimes make things up to get back at their parents. On top of that, bad neighbors or bad co-workers might want to make your life miserable by calling in false reports of the “crimes” you are committing against your children. Some other individuals feel they know how to raise your child better than you do and will call the police if you spank the child. There are many scenarios where false reports can come in about alleged child abuse. A good defense attorney will do an independent investigation into the facts surrounding the case. Our West Palm Beach Culpable Negligence Lawyers will take depositions of the officers, the DCF workers, and of anyone else involved to find out if there really was any evidence of child abuse.
If the case involved spanking, “[A] parent may assert as an affirmative defense his or her parental right to administer ‘reasonable’ or ‘nonexcessive’ corporal punishment, i.e., a typical spanking, in a prosecution for simple child abuse.” Raford v. State.
Contact the Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A.
Contact our law firm to schedule a 5 minute free consultation with one of our West Palm Beach Culpable Negligence Lawyers so we can hear your version of the story. The facts you give us are essential to developing a strong defense of your case. It is important to tell us everything. Our attorneys will investigate the case and take depositions of the individuals involved to get to the bottom of the story. The facts that we gather will be presented to the prosecutor to try and persuade them to drop the case because there is not enough evidence. If we cannot find you a favorable solution, we can take your case all the way to trial. Call our offices today so we can get to work defending you.