St. Petersburg Child Abuse/Neglect Lawyers
A Law Firm with a Former Prosecutor On Your Side
Child abuse or neglect is a very serious charge in Florida. It puts you at risk for harsh penalties involving prison time, hefty fines, and more. You may be shocked to find yourself the subject of a criminal investigation into child abuse or child neglect. Without timely and effective legal representation, these investigations can easily turn into domestic violence criminal charges.
If you have been arrested for child abuse or neglect in the Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Pinellas or Hillsborough counties, or any of the surrounding areas, it is vital that you seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At Morris Law Firm, P.A., we routinely represent clients facing these types of investigations and charges. With a former child abuse prosecutor on our elite team, you can be assured that your case will be handled with the legal insight, knowledge, and experience needed to help you obtain the best possible case outcome.
Facing an investigation or arrest for child abuse or child neglect? Contact Morris Law Firm, P.A. at (727) 592-5885 or via our online request form to book a consultation to get specific information about defending your case.
What Is Child Abuse or Neglect?
As a parent, you may be accused of child abuse or child neglect for disciplining or punishing your child for bad behavior. It is important to know that you can be investigated by law enforcement if any reports of marks, bruises, or other signs of injury are given to them. Reports of an adulting hitting, slapping, or otherwise using force against a child may also be investigated. However, marks and bruises by themselves are not sufficient evidence for accusations of child abuse.
According to Florida law, child abuse consists of threatening to or willfully acting in a way that can cause mental, physical, or sexual injury or harm to a child that could cause or result in significant impairment to the child’s emotional, mental, or physical health. This includes any action taken against the child by a parent or guardian or any failure to act, such as when the child is in danger.
Florida Law on Child Abuse
According to Florida law, child abuse involves the knowing or willful and intentional act of physically or mentally injuring a child, acting in a manner that anyone would reasonably expect the result to be physical or mental injury to a child, or encouraging someone else to act in a way that would cause physical or mental injury to a child.
Aggravated child abuse which is a more serious crime consists of:
- Committing aggravated battery on a child; this involves great bodily harm or permanent disability of disfigurement
- Torturing a child
- Punishing a child in a malicious way
- Caging a child or
- Otherwise abusing a child knowingly and willfully that results in great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement, or disability.
Physical injury consists of any temporary or permanent disfigurement, death, or the impairment of a body part. Mental injury consists of causing any injury to a child’s psychological or intellectual ability that would impair function within a normal scope of behavior and performance.
Florida Law on Child Neglect
In Florida, any child caregiver is expected to provide the child with proper care so that the child can maintain physical and mental health. This means food, clothing, shelter, nutrition, supervision, medicine and/or medical services. If the caregiver fails or omit to do so, it can result in a charge of child neglect. Caregivers are also expected to make reasonable efforts to protect children from neglect, abuse, or exploitation by someone else. Failure to do so can also result in child neglect charges. These types of charges can occur based on a single incident or on repeated conduct.
Potential Penalties for Child Abuse/Neglect
The penalties for child abuse and child neglect can vary, depending on whether you have a previous conviction and whether bodily harm, disfigurement, or disability occurred from the abuse.
Penalties can include the following:
- Child abuse or neglect that does not result in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement is generally charged as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
- Neglect of a child that results in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement is generally charged as a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- Aggravated child abuse is generally charged as a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
In these cases, it is up to the state prosecutor to prove that you committed every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is often a very challenging burden of proof to meet as many defenses or mitigating factors can be used that could cast doubt on the prosecutor’s case. These can include constitutional violations, mistaken identity, insufficient evidence, the offense was not willful or was not intentional, procedural violations made by police, and more.
Contact Morris Law Firm, P.A. for an Effective Defense
If you have been arrested, do not speak to the police or give any written statements. Exercise your right to have an attorney present. You may also want to collect and document your own evidence. It is important to remember that time is of the essence. You have a very narrow window of opportunity between when you are arrested and when the State Attorney’s office decides to move forward with formal charges against you. It is always best to hire an attorney immediately who can negotiate on your behalf gives you the best chance of avoiding criminal charges.
At Morris Law Firm, P.A., you can rely on a team with first-hand experience in dealing with these types of cases. Our team is trial-tested and trial-ready should your case require it. We will do everything possible to help you achieve an optimum result, such as a case dismissal or reduction or charges or sentencing.
Discuss your case with a St. Petersburg child abuse/neglect attorney by contacting us at (727) 592-5885 today.
FORMER STATE PROSECUTOR
Melinda Morris is a former prosecutor and has handled thousands of criminal cases from investigation through sentencing enabling us to identify weaknesses in the State’s case against you.
We never settle for the easiest outcome or the typical result. We know how to negotiate with the State Attorney and we will work to get you the best possible outcome.
TRUSTED & EXPERIENCED
Melinda Morris has practiced criminal law for over 20 years. Our clients trust advice that comes from experience in nearly every type of criminal case.
We will know every client’s story because we will take the time to listen and understand. You will work with your attorney one-on-one at every stage of the process.
You will have the cell phone number of your attorney. Your attorney will directly return your call, email, or text to answer your pressing questions.
SAME DAY REPRESENTATION
The government is wasting no time in trying to prove your guilt, a proactive defense is imperative. Prompt and decisive action from your defense attorney is of critical importance.