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West Palm Beach Abuse & Neglect Lawyer

Children and the elderly are among the most vulnerable members of the public, and they rely on others to protect them. When family members or those charged with their care are accused of harm theming or otherwise failing in their duties, they can end up facing serious criminal charges.Abuse and/or neglect of a child or of the elderly can constitute a criminal offense, and requires the immediate assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Scott Berry Law, P.A. provides the professional legal representation you need in these situations. As highly trained, professional West Palm Beach abuse & neglect lawyers, we protect your rights while gathering the evidence needed to defend your freedom.  Abuse requires the intentional infliction of injury whereas neglect is the failure or omission to provide proper care. Where the abuse or neglect result in serious harm to the victim, the government can increase the severity of the crime charged. Simple abuse or neglect is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. When the crimes become aggravated, the punishment increases to as much as 30 years in prison.

Charges Involving Allegations of Child or Elder Abuse and Neglect

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the state agency charged with investigating reports of abuse and neglect. In 2017 alone, they received close to 150,000 calls alleging child abuse or abandonment. These charges can stem from incidents in which children appear bruised, beaten, unkempt, or otherwise uncared by schools, daycare providers, or friends, neighbors, and other family members. Even the mere accusation of poor treatment is enough to launch an investigation.

As our population continues aging and more Florida residents become dependant on outside providers and nursing home or long-term care facilities, incidents involving elder abuse and neglect have become more common as well. These may involve allegations of physical violence, such as pushing, hitting, or punching, as well as situations involving emotional abuse, financial fraud, sexual harassment, or failure to provide for personal or medical needs.

Florida Abuse & Neglect Statutes

The Florida Statutes defines the types of actions that are considered abusive or negligent towards children and adult, and outlines the penalties involved if convicted on these charges:

Florida Statute, 827.03  Child Abuse and Neglect

(1) “Child abuse” means:
(a) Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child;
(b) An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child; or
(c) Active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.

A person who knowingly or willfully abuses a child without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(2) “Aggravated child abuse” occurs when a person:
(a) Commits aggravated battery on a child;
(b) Willfully tortures, maliciously punishes, or willfully and unlawfully cages a child; or
(c) Knowingly or willfully abuses a child and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child.

A person who commits aggravated child abuse commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(3)(a) “Neglect of a child” means:

  1. A caregiver’s failure or omission to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child; or
    2. A caregiver’s failure to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.

Neglect of a child may be based on repeated conduct or on a single incident or omission that results in, or could reasonably be expected to result in, serious physical or mental injury, or a substantial risk of death, to a child.
(b) A person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(c) A person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(4) For purposes of this section, “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.

Florida Statute, 825.102 Abuse and Neglect of Elderly or Disabled Persons

Under Section 825.102, Florida law defines elder abuse in a similar manner. It includes:

(a) Intentional infliction of physical or psychological injury upon an elderly person or disabled adult;
(b) An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly person or disabled adult; or
(c) Active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly person or disabled adult.

In addition to intentional actions, these crimes may involve failing to provide for an older or disabled adult’s reasonable needs. As felony crimes, penalties may include fines of up to $10,000 and up to 30 years imprisonment.

We Can Help You Today

If you are accused of any type of crime against a child or against an elderly or disabled adult, get the professional legal representation you need to defend yourself against these charges. Call or contact Scott Berry Law, P.A. online today and request a consultation to discuss your case with our West Palm Beach abuse and neglect lawyers.We can advise you on your legal rights, while gathering the evidence needed to defend you and prevent a potentially lengthy jail sentence. With your livelihood and your freedom on the line, do not delay. Reach out and contact us today

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