Child abuse allegations can be very difficult for a parent or guardian to deal with. These cases often encompass the State stepping into a family's home and determining how a parent or guardian should act in a certain situation. Reasonable people disagree on whether corporal punishment is discipline or abuse. Allegations are also often made based on nothing more than an injury and a doctor's speculation that the injury was caused by abuse. Once the allegation is made, people are quick to believe it. If you or a loved one has been accused of child abuse, call us immediately to discuss your unique set of facts and what we can do for you.
Child Abuse is defined in Florida Statute Section 827.03(2)(c). In order for the State to prove that you are guilty of child abuse, they must prove:
- You knowingly or willfully:
- intentionally inflicted physical or mental injury upon the victim, or
- committed an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to the victim, or
- 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 the victim, and
- the victim was under the age of 18.
"Mental injury" means injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment in the ability of the child to function within the normal range of performance and behavior as supported by expert testimony.
Aggravated Child Abuse is defined in Florida Statute Section 827.03(1)(a). In order for the State to prove that you are guilty of aggravated child abuse, they must prove:
- You committed an aggravated battery on a child, or
- willfully tortured, maliciously punished, or willfully and unlawfully caged a child, or
- knowingly or willfully abused a child and in so doing caused
- great bodily harm, or
- permanent disability or
- permanent disfigurement.
"Maliciously" means wrongfully, intentionally, and without legal justification or excuse.
Maliciousness may be established by circumstances from which one could conclude that a reasonable parent would not have engaged in the damaging acts toward the child for any valid reason and that the primary purpose of the acts was to cause the victim unjustifiable pain or injury.
Up to 5 years in prison
Aggravated Child Abuse
Up to 30 years in prison
The most common defense to child abuse allegations is that you, as a parent or person acting in the place of a parent, were imposing reasonable physical discipline on the child. It is up to the jury to decide whether the act was legal discipline or abuse. The State also must prove that it was you who inflicted the injury, as opposed to someone else. You do not have to prove anything. The State often has a difficult job in establishing the nexus between the act that caused the injury and the injury. For example, if a child who was too young to speak had a bruise on his or her arm, the State would have to prove how the bruise got there and who put it there. They can try to do this by circumstantial or direct evidence. They can use medical doctors, witness testimony, your own statements, or other evidence. Call us to discuss the facts of your case and the possible defenses to your case.
or Aggravated Child Abuse,
Call Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon Now!