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Child abuse is a serious criminal offense in Florida, and anyone who is charged should contact a lawyer immediately. The Florida child abuse laws apply to more than just parents or guardians, as other caregivers including adult household members and any other persons responsible for the child’s welfare may be charged for abuse or neglect. If you have been charged or are being investigated for a crime involving a child contact South Florida child abuse lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime at (954) 543-0305 for a free consultation. Benjamin has successfully defended numerous clients charged with child abuse, including earning acquittals at trial and securing dismissals before trial. He understands that defendants facing child abuse charges are rarely treated with respect by law enforcement and prosecutors, and he fights tooth and nail to even the odds and make sure his clients are treated fairly in court. Benjamin defends child abuse charges in the Tri-County courts of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, and is also an experienced Treasure Coast lawyer for cases in Martin and St. Lucie County. He has flexible meeting hours in his Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach locations, and can also travel to a convenient place to meet.
If you think you may be under investigation for child abuse or child neglect it is imperative to consult with a lawyer prior to speaking with detectives from child protective services or other law enforcement divisions. Law enforcement officers are trained to obtain incriminating statements from all suspects, and they are not on your side. Making any type of statement to a law enforcement officer without an attorney present can increase the odds of being charged, and hurt your chances of receiving a favorable outcome down the road. Investigators are not always looking for a confession, as seemingly innocent statements can be extremely damaging for a defendant. This is especially true in cases involving children; child witnesses are not always truthful and law enforcement will seek corroboration from suspects about any details involving an alleged incident. Benjamin specializes in representing clients charged with child abuse and child neglect in South Florida, and makes sure police do not obtain incriminating statements from his clients.
Under Florida law a child includes anyone under the age of 18 at the time the incident occurred. Child abuse is defined as intentional infliction of physical or emotional harm upon a child, though it is not required for the state to prove the defendant ever laid a finger on the child. Any intentional act that could reasonably be expected to cause injury, or active encouragement of a child to do something that causes him or her harm also constitutes abuse under Florida law. Providing a minor with drugs or alcohol can be enough evidence to support felony child abuse charges if harm occurred. Child abuse is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison unless the child suffered serious bodily injury or permanent disability or disfigurement. If the state has evidence of serious bodily injury such as broken bones, traumatic brain injury or burns that cause permanent scars they may bring charges for aggravated child abuse. Maliciously punishing a child may also result in charges for aggravated child abuse, which is a first-degree felony under Florida law that is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Prosecutors have a tendency to overcharge this offense when the facts or not conclusive about the presence of a serious injury or whether the defendant acted maliciously. Benjamin has successfully defended clients against aggravated child abuse and understands the challenges that these cases present. He is an experienced South Florida criminal defense lawyer who specializes in aggravated child abuse, and does whatever it takes to make sure his clients are treated fairly.
Under Florida statute 827.03 neglect of a child is defined as a caregiver’s failure to provide a child with care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health. This includes but is not limited to providing food, nutrition, clothing, medicine and medical care. The law also requires that a caregiver make reasonable efforts to protect children from abuse, neglect or exploitation by another person. Failure to protect a child from a third party is punishable as if the defendant harmed the child him or herself. Neglect does not have to be intentional or willful, as neglect by culpable negligence can result in criminal prosecution. Child neglect is a serious offense under Florida law, and is punishable by third-degree felony charges. If the neglect caused great bodily harm or permanent damage the charge could be elevated to a second-degree felony. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida child neglect lawyer who handles cases in the Tri-County Jurisdictions of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County. He also defends child neglect cases in the Treasure Coast jurisdictions of Martin and St. Lucie County and is available 7 days a week for a free consultation.