The abuse or neglect of a child carries severe penalties in every state and a heavy social stigma. Florida is no exception, and the state’s laws outline exactly what is considered child abuse, as well as the penalties for offenses.
The details of child neglect are address in Florida Statute 827.03. This crime is defined as any caregiver’s failure to provide care, supervision, and essential services for a child’s well-being, including food, shelter, medical care, and shelter. Neglect can also include omission or a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse by another person.
Abuse is defined in the same legislation as one of three different categories. A person may commit this offense through intentionally inflicting physical or mental harm to a child, performing an action that would be reasonably expected result in this harm, or through knowingly allowing another person to commit this type of harm. This crime can be committed against any person under the age of 18.
The penalties of abusing or neglecting a child vary depending on the offense and amount of damage inflicted. Child neglect that does not result in great bodily harm is considered a third degree felony, which carries the possibility of up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
However, if great bodily harm or permanent disability results from the neglect, however, the offender will be charged with a second degree felony and faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The crime of first degree felony child abuse is committed if the offender maliciously tortures, unlawfully cages, or causes great bodily injury to a child. This offense can result in up to 30 years in prison and fine of up to $10,000.
Felony offenses, including any form of child abuse or neglect, also carry consequences outside of the courtroom. Convicted felons lose certain rights, such as the right to vote or own firearms. In addition, if the offender is a parent they are likely to lose custody of their children and may be denied visitation with them. For this reason, some child abuse allegations may be maliciously filed by a parent seeking to manipulate a child custody dispute.
The social stigma of a child abuser can also affect other areas of life. With a criminal record including such a serious charge, offenders may encounter difficulty in securing certain employment, education, or even housing opportunities. However, Florida law states in Statute 943.0585 that in very specific cases a charge of child abuse might be sealed or expunged from an offender’s record, though consulting an attorney to review if this applies to an individual case may be advisable.