St. Petersburg Child Abuse
There were about 130,000 households in St. Petersburg as of the 2010 census, and out of these, 21.4% included children who were under the age of 18. If you have been charged with child abuse in Florida, you may be facing either misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the allegations. Although most people think of child abuse as involving non-accidental physical injuries to a child, child abuse charges can also be brought in connection with sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect. At Hanlon Law, St. Petersburg child abuse lawyer Will Hanlon believes strongly in safeguarding the rights of the accused, and he can look closely at your case to determine a defense strategy for you.Understanding the Crime of Child Abuse
Under Florida Statute section 827.03(1)(b), criminal child abuse can include intentionally physically or mentally injuring a child, committing an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to cause a physical or mental injury to a child, or actively encouraging someone to commit an act that could physically or mentally hurt a child. A child is someone under the age of 18. The prosecution will need to establish its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
In some cases, mental injuries are as serious as or more serious than physical injuries. Mental injuries damage the intellectual or psychological abilities of a child. Often, however, this type of injury requires expert testimony to be shown.
In some cases, child abuse is charged as aggravated child abuse. To obtain a conviction against you, the prosecution will need to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed an aggravated battery on a child, maliciously punished a child, or willfully or knowingly abused a child and in doing so caused a permanent disfigurement, permanent disability, or great bodily harm to the child. A child abuse attorney can help St. Petersburg residents fight back against these allegations.
Some people do not realize that child abuse can be a felony charge. If the abuse is not considered aggravated abuse, and there is no permanent or serious damage, it is charged as a third-degree felony, which is punishable by a maximum of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $5,000. However, you can be convicted of a first-degree felony for aggravated child abuse. This means that you face the possibility of up to 30 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $10,000.
You should not assume that a conviction is inevitable. There are defenses that you may be able to raise successfully, depending on the circumstances. Children are not always reliable about what they experienced, saw, or heard, which makes these cases hard for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. There may be facts that arise during the investigation that support the possibility of a different perpetrator of the abuse. There may be facts to support a claim that the injuries were not intentionally perpetrated. In some cases, a St. Petersburg child abuse attorney may be able to raise doubts about the credibility or sufficiency of evidence to secure a dismissal or reduction in charges. In other cases, such as when the child is a troubled teenager, it may be appropriate to raise self-defense or defense of others. Or you may be able to credibly raise parental privilege, which is the right of parents to moderately correct a child who is under their control and authority. As a parent, you have a right to administer a reasonable spanking without being charged with a crime.
Certain adults who have access to children like their pediatrician or grade-school teacher must report signs of abuse. Mandatory reporters include schoolteachers, social workers, physicians, mental health professionals, day care workers, law enforcement workers, and judges. People who are required to report suspected or known child abuse and who willfully do not do so can be charged with a third-degree felony.Consult an Experienced Child Abuse Lawyer in the St. Petersburg Area
If you are charged with child abuse, you should consult our experienced criminal defense firm. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994. We are committed to guarding the rights of the accused. Call Hanlon Law at 727-897-5413 or complete our online form. We can also help you if you are dealing with a situation involving domestic violence or another sensitive criminal matter.