Child Abuse Attorneys
Child abuse is one of the most common violent crimes in Florida, but it often goes unreported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in seven children suffers from child abuse. The long-term effects of child abuse affect all aspects of life for a child, including low self-confidence, impaired learning ability, anxiety, depression, poor social skills, poverty, and suicide.
Child abuse puts a heavy toll on everyone involved. If you or a family member has been accused of child abuse, get in touch with our experienced family lawyers. At Tobaygo Law, our team of child abuse attorneys delivers professional legal counsel and representation for clients throughout Sarasota and Manatee Counties. We are fully committed to fighting for you — contact us to request a free case evaluation.
What Is Child Abuse?
Under Florida Statute 827.03, child abuse occurs when a parent or caregiver:
- causes intentional physical or mental injury to a child,
- acts in a way that would reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury,
- or encourages any other person to act in a way that would be reasonably expected to cause mental or physical injury to a child.
Simple child abuse occurs when the abused child doesn’t suffer from severe bodily harm. Nonetheless, this type of child abuse is considered a third-degree felony — punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Aggravated child abuse is more extreme. This type of child abuse occurs when a child suffers from severe bodily and mental harm at the hands of a parent or guardian. Examples include torture, punishment, unlawful caging, and aggravated battery on a child, as well as knowingly and willfully causing permanent disfigurement, great bodily harm, and permanent disability to a child. Aggravated child abuse is a first-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of 30 years in state prison and a fine of $10,000.
Types Of Child Abuse
Child abuse falls under a broad scope — just because a child doesn’t have bruises or scars doesn’t mean they aren’t being abused. That’s why it’s critical to understand the different types of child abuse, so no child is left behind, and those around them aren’t left in the dark. The four main types of child abuse are physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, and neglect.
Physical child abuse is any action by a parent or guardian that results in a child’s injury. Examples include hitting, beating, shaking, biting, strangling, scalding, poisoning, burning, and suffocating.
Sexual abuse is defined as any sexual act between an adult and the child, where the child doesn’t fully comprehend, and informed consent is not given. Examples include rape, sexual games, pictures, and movies, forced viewing of sexual acts, and exhibitionism.
Emotional & Psychological Abuse
Emotional child abuse occurs when an abuser exhibits behaviors or attitudes that interfere with the mental health or social development of a child. Examples include vulgar language, shouting or yelling at the child, name-calling, and making fun of or belittling the child.
Child neglect occurs when a parent or guardian fails to provide the child with proper resources for development and physical needs. Neglect includes unsafe living conditions, improper supervision, inadequate food or clothing, poor hygiene, and negligent medical care.
What Does A Child Abuse Investigation Entail?
When someone brings forward claims of child abuse, the Department of Children & Families (DCF) opens an investigation, and Child Protective Services (CPS) or law enforcement decides to follow up on that report. This is called being “screened-in” or “screened-out.” When a report is “screened-in,” that means protective authorities have chosen to open an investigation. Reports which are “screened-out” means they haven’t. There are a few reasons why a report might be “screened-out” such as too little evidence, inaccurate or false information, or the report does not meet the definition of child abuse.
If an investigation is opened, DCF has 60 days to complete it, unless the report involves a child’s death, a missing child, or law enforcement decides to open a criminal investigation. Investigations involve CPS and law enforcement, but only law enforcement can make arrests when criminal acts occur. Interviews may be held with the child, a non-offending parent, and the individual suspected of child abuse. If the child is in immediate danger, CPS and law enforcement take action.
How Can A Child Abuse Attorney Help Me?
Child abuse is a serious allegation, with far-reaching ramifications for everyone involved. We understand the sensitive nature of these allegations — if you or a loved one has suffered from child abuse, we are here to help through every step of the way. Additionally, if you’ve been accused of child abuse, we are here to provide expert legal counsel and representation if the case goes to court. Our team at Tobaygo Law is well-versed in all aspects of family law, including child abuse cases. Get in touch with us today to schedule a free case consultation.