The law is strict about protecting vulnerable people, especially children. Allegedly putting a child in a situation that might harm them or neglecting to see to their needs could lead to a child endangerment charge.
If the police have arrested you for a situation involving a child, contact a seasoned domestic violence defense attorney immediately. Although it might seem like an easily explained misunderstanding, the authorities are cautious about accepting explanations in cases of potential harm to a child. A Winter Garden child endangerment lawyer understands how to respond these charges to avoid the dire consequences of a conviction.
Florida Statute § 827.03(e)1 defines child neglect as including the failure to provide proper care, allowing the child to be abused, and putting the child in a situation that could be harmful. Child endangerment charges result from an alleged violation of the neglect statute.
The definition is so broad that it encompasses many situations that may—or may not—cause the child actual harm. A parent or other caregiver risks a child endangerment charge if they:
Although corporal punishment is legal in Florida, excessive or unreasonable physical correction could result in a child endangerment charge.
A prosecutor could bring charges if there is a pattern of neglect, but one incident could trigger a charge in some cases. However, the law requires that the accused’s act or omission create a risk the child could suffer serious physical or mental injury or death. A Winter Garden attorney could dispute whether the situation that led to the child endangerment charge posed a substantial risk.
A child endangerment charge is a Class 3 felony even when the conduct was negligent rather than intentional and the child suffered no actual harm. Upon conviction, an offender could receive a sentence of up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000. If leniency is warranted, the judge could sentence the offender to probation.
A felony conviction for child endangerment could have far reaching consequences. It could disqualify a person from certain forms of employment and professional licenses, and limit their housing opportunities. A felon in Florida cannot vote or own guns.
The most significant consequence of a child endangerment charge could be a disruption of the family. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) gets involved in child endangerment cases involving parents or other family members. A case worker visits the home, speaks with the adults and all the children living there, and assesses whether the children are safe.
If the case worker has concerns, they could remove the child from the home temporarily. In some cases, DCF could remove all the children in the home even if the alleged endangerment impacted only one child. DCF might place the children with a relative, but often they go into foster care.
The parent might not be able to see the children while the criminal proceedings are ongoing, or a responsible person or social worker might supervise the visits. In some cases, DCF moves to terminate parental rights. A child endangerment attorney in Winter Garden could work with the accused and DCF to reach a solution that reunites the parents and children and preserves the family unit.
Child endangerment charges arise in various ways, including reports by family members, neighbors, teachers, and others. A misinterpretation of an event or a child’s erroneous statement could cause someone to call the police and report possible child endangerment. Sadly, co-parents and romantic partners sometimes make malicious child endangerment reports.
Depending on the situation that led to the charge, multiple defenses could be available. For example, a Winter Garden attorney could assert that negligent care did not rise to the level required to find child endangerment. A lack of evidence that the child suffered harm could be a defense in some cases.
Parents have the legal privilege to discipline their children as they see fit if the discipline is reasonable. Parental privilege could be a defense in some cases. Similarly, the defense could assert that there was no intent to cause harm to the child.
A child endangerment charge could profoundly impact every aspect of your life. Protect your freedom and family by working with The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys.
A Winter Garden child endangerment lawyer could construct a vigorous defense against the charges, so call us today.
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