Good parents can still make mistakes. Consider this example: A mother who usually picks up her children calls her husband and asks him to pick the kids up from soccer practice because she is working late. The husband has been at a happy hour with some coworkers, and agrees to pick up his kid, without considering the ramifications of being stopped by the police with alcohol on his breath and a child in the car. After a traffic stop for speeding, he is arrested for DUI and the felony charge of Child Abuse or Child Neglect, despite the absence of any harm to the child.
Such situations are fairly common. If the police have charged you with child abuse or child neglect in connection with a DUI arrest, it is imperative that you contact an experienced defense attorney in Clearwater.
What is Considered Child Abuse or Child Neglect in Florida?
Child abuse is defined by Federal and State laws. In Florida, child abuse is defined in Chapter 827 of Florida State statutes. Florida Statutes 827.03(1)(b) defines child abuse as:
- Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child;
- An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child; or
- 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.
On the other hand, child neglect is defined by Florida Statutes 827.03(1)(e):
- 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
- A caregiver’s failure to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.
Child abuse and child neglect charges are quite serious. Handled incorrectly, this is the type of charge that can result in family separation and placement of the children in a foster home or alternative living situation. A felony charge of child neglect or child abuse exposes you to the possibility of jail, prison, fines, and lenghty supervision on probation.
Why Can a DUI Result in Child Abuse or Child Neglect Charges?
If you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with children in the vehicle, you may be charged with abuse or neglect based on the theory that you knowingly or intentionally put the child in danger by operating the vehicle unsafely. Law enforcement appears motivated to charge this crime even in cases where there was no accident, no injury, limited evidence of bad driving, and despite the fact that the child was wearing a seatbelt and was not harmed and otherwise well cared for.
What Should You Do if Charged with Child Abuse?
You should consult with a licensed attorney to discuss the specifics of your case and to develop a strategy for defending the charges.Not only do you need an attorney who is skilled in DUI defense, but you will also need someone to handle your case who has experience handling child abuse and neglect charges. If you have been charged with a DUI while your children were in the vehicle, contact the legal team at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan to speak with an experienced attorney today.
For a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney Clearwater, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.