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Child Neglect Under Florida Law


Florida law defines child neglect as any willful or negligent failure of a caregiver to take reasonable steps to protect the welfare of a child. The penalties for child neglect are severe in the state of Florida due to the vulnerability of children and the resulting need to protect those children. Therefore, you should consult with a Florida criminal defense lawyer immediately if you are accused of child neglect.

Defining Child Neglect

In the state of Florida, neglect of a child occurs when a caregiver fails to provides a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health. This can include situations in which a caregiver fails to provide a child with adequate food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and/or healthcare. Child neglect also may occur when a caregiver fails to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another individual.

Elements Necessary to Prove Child Neglect

In order to prove that an individual has committed child neglect, the prosecution must prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt. First, the accused must have willfully or negligently failed to provide the child victim with care, supervision, or services necessary to sustain his or her physical or mental health, or willfully or negligently failed to make a reasonable effort to protect the child from abuse, neglect or exploitation. The negligence referred to in this statute is not just regular civil negligence. Rather, the negligence must have been culpable negligence, in that the accused must have known, or reasonably should have known, that the act or course of conduct was likely to cause death or great bodily harm. Next, the accused perpetrator also must have been functioning as the “caregiver” for the victim. Finally, the child victim also must have been under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged crime.

Penalties for Child Neglect

The crime of child neglect under Florida law is a felony offense. Under normal circumstances, child neglect constitutes a third degree felony, with penalties ranging from five years in prison to five years of probation and a $5,000 fine. If, however, the child neglect results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement, the offense is a second degree felony, which can result in a prison term of up to 15 years and a $10,000 crime. Furthermore, a conviction for any level of child neglect can have an adverse effect on an individual’s parental rights, or can even result in the loss of the individual’s parental rights altogether.

Call Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A., for Legal Assistance

If you are facing any type of criminal charges, no matter how serious those charges may be, you are likely to be stressed out and unsure as to what you should do. The first step whenever you are charged with any kind of criminal offense should be to contact the Florida criminal defense attorneys of Salazar & Kelly Group, P.A. We can investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, review all evidence pertinent to your case, and build a strong defense strategy designed to successfully resolve your criminal charges. Call our office at 407-483-0500 today and schedule an appointment at any of our office locations today.



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