Aggravated Child Abuse

Clearwater Lawyer Assisting People Charged with Serious Felonies

Aggravated child abuse is a very serious charge. It is a felony charge, which means that you face the possibility of time in prison, substantial monetary fines, and a criminal record. You also lose the right to bear arms when convicted. Although it is a serious charge, there are some circumstances in which it is preferable to take a plea deal involving aggravated child abuse or child abuse. When allegations of child abuse involve claims of sexual conduct that could be charged as a sex crime, it may be in your best interests to plead to aggravated child abuse or child abuse. Each situation is unique, and it is important to consult a Clearwater aggravated child abuse lawyer rather than assume that you can handle the matter yourself. The earlier that we get involved, the better chance that we have to secure a favorable or at least less damaging outcome.

Understanding Aggravated Child Abuse Charges

There are multiple people involved with children who are mandatory reporters. They are required to report known or suspected acts of child abuse to authorities. In fact, it is a third-degree felony not to report if you are a mandatory reporter who knows of or suspects child abuse. However, there are many statements that children can make that can be misconstrued as signs of childhood sexual abuse, and it is important to get ahead of those statements and any investigation by the police. If you are being investigated or suspect that you may be under investigation, you should consult an experienced attorney. Often, when we get involved during the pre-filing process, we can work toward a better outcome.

In Florida, child abuse is charged as a third-degree felony. This means that if you are convicted, you face a maximum of five years’ imprisonment or five years’ probation, as well as a maximum of $5,000 in fines. Child abuse is committed whenever anybody — not just a parent — inflicts an injury on a child, acts in such a way that an injury could reasonably be expected, or intentionally acts in a way that could reasonably be expected to result in a child's mental or physical injuries. When aggravated child abuse is charged, however, the situation is even more extreme. You should consult an aggravated child abuse attorney in the Clearwater area without delay if this happens to you.

Aggravated child abuse is a first-degree felony, which is considered a Level 9, or very severe, offense. The court is required to sentence you to a minimum term of prison for this offense. To establish the charge, the prosecutor will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you maliciously punished, willfully tortured, or willfully and illegally caged a minor, or you committed willful or knowing abuse against a child and caused great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement, or permanent disability to the minor. Great bodily harm involves scars, disfigurement, broken bones, or extreme mental injuries.

If you are charged with aggravated child abuse, there may be different defense strategies available. Sometimes child abuse is falsely reported, and someone is completely innocent of any wrongdoing. If our Clearwater aggravated child abuse attorney gets involved during the pre-filing process, we may be able to plausibly present such an argument, and in some cases, the prosecutor may not bring charges at all. In other cases, there may be improper motives for making a false allegation, such as an effort to get an unfair advantage in a custody battle. Sometimes, when injuries are the basis for bringing the aggravated child abuse charge, it may be possible to suggest another way in which the injury occurred or raise a reasonable doubt about the evidence of great bodily harm.

While aggravated child abuse is a serious charge, in some cases, it is preferable to plead to aggravated child abuse in spite of the mandatory prison time in order to avoid a much more serious sex crime charge. For example, a prosecutor who knows that the evidence for statutory rape or lewd and lascivious acts with a minor is weak could be persuaded to agree to a plea deal involving child abuse or aggravated child abuse. Unlike rape or lewd and lascivious acts, there is no requirement that somebody convicted of aggravated child abuse register as a sex offender. While a criminal record carries a social stigma, registering as a sex offender carries an even greater stigma.

Consult an Aggravated Child Abuse Lawyer in the Clearwater Area

If you are charged with aggravated child abuse in the Clearwater area, you should consult us. Our founder, Clearwater criminal attorney Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994. We are committed to protecting the rights of people accused of sex crimes. Contact Hanlon Law at 727-897-5413 or via our online form.