Florida child abuse laws fall under the Penal Code. The elements of this crime include
- Willfully causing physical or mental torture to a child
- Willfully performing an act that has the potential to inflict physical and psychological injury on a child
- Encouraging other people to engage in actions that can inflict physical or mental harm on a child
From the above interpretation, child abuse in Florida can take many forms. The most common are discussed below
Emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse. It is one of the most common forms of child abuse. It involves subjecting the child to mistreatment that can cause stress, depression, anxiety, lack of self-esteem, and other types of physiological trauma. In most cases, emotional abuse follows other forms of child abuse such as sexual and physical abuse.
Examples of emotional abuse include
- Acts of omission such as not expressing affection towards the child
- Humiliation and insults
- Confining the child
- Limiting the child’s opportunities to learn and socialize
- Hostile parenting such as shouting and intimidation
- Giving the child unreasonable expectations
Child neglect is when the person responsible for the child fails to provide conditions that the child needs for physical and emotional development. Sometimes, the caregiver may be unable to sufficiently provide for the child due to financial hardships and incapacitation. But when an able caregiver deliberately fails to provide for a child, it is punishable by law. Intentional failure to provide the following things for a child amounts to child neglect
- Food, clothing, and shelter
- Access to medical care
- Legal and Moral guidance
- Sufficient supervision
- Parental care and support
- Regular school attendance
Physical child abuse is when bodily injury is inflicted on a child. Parents who are prone to temper sometimes use excessive force when disciplining their children. If it results in severe injuries to the child, the caregiver can be convicted of child abuse.
Florida law gives caregivers rights to moderately discipline children under their care and control. Though it is a basic legal defense, parental privilege does not grant parents immunity from child abuse prosecution. Parents are expected to use reasonable force when disciplining their children.
Child sexual abuse is when someone uses their power or authority to involve children in sexual acts. It also includes exposing a child to inappropriate sexual material and behavior. Use of physical force and manipulation are the most common forms of child abuse. Examples of inappropriate sexual acts are masturbation, child pornography, voyeurism, touching of private parts such as breasts and genitals, exhibitionism, and all forms of sex.
Sometimes, multiple people expose multiple children to sexual abuse. This is referred to as organized child sexual abuse. Examples of organized sexual maltreatment are child pornography and child prostitution.
Aggravated child abuse
Some forms of child abuse can be considered aggravated child abuse under Florida law. Child abuse will be considered aggravated if the defendant
- Committed aggravated battery on a child
- Maliciously punishes, or willfully and unlawfully cages or tortures a child
- Willfully abuses a child causing severe bodily harm or permanent disability to the child
Failure to report child abuse
It is good to note that you can be penalized for failure to report child abuse. Florida laws require people such as health workers, school teachers, spiritual practitioners, and law enforcement officers to report all suspected cases of child abuse. Failure to report is a first-degree misdemeanor while false reporting is a third-degree felony.
Common defenses to child abuse charges in Florida
Child abuse is a felony offense. It carries different penalties depending on the form of child abuse inflicted. Some legal defenses that defendants use to oppose child abuse chargers are
- Parental privilege
- Self-defense especially in cases involving teenagers
- Defense of other people and property
- False accusations and factual disputes
- The defendant’s acts were unintentional
- Insufficient evidence
- The defendant didn’t expect their acts to cause mental or physical injury to the child
If you suspect child abuse, you should inform the Florida Department of Children and Family Services. If you are accused of child abuse, William Hanlon, Tampa Criminal Lawyer . can help you challenge the charges or minimize the penalty if you are guilty.