Broward criminal defense lawyers know that in hindsight, this was obviously not a wise decision. However, many child neglect charges don’t arise from severe circumstances involving malnourishment or some ongoing lack of supervision and care. Many times, such allegations involve a temporary lapse in judgment.
The parent may have no prior criminal record, and this will work to the defense’s advantage when either negotiating a dismissal of the charges or a plea on a lesser charge. Another option is working out sentence reduction, such as probation and parenting classes.
Child neglect is broadly defined in FL Statute 827.03(e) as the failure or omission on the part of a caregiver to provide a child with the supervision, care or services necessary to maintain a child’s physical and mental health. This could include failure to provide shelter, nutrition, clothing, medicine, supervision or education which a “prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child.” It can also be charged when a person fails to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse or exploitation by another person.
It can be charged in cases where there is either a pattern of ongoing neglect, or where there is a single incident that results in substantial risk of harm to the child.
If the child suffers no actual harm as a result of the neglect, it is considered a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
That is a severe sentence for a temporary lapse.
In this case, the couple was staying at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with their son, who was almost 2 years-old. They were celebrating the father’s birthday.
Officials said the child fell asleep on a bed. The couple did not want to wake him, but decided to get some dinner. They reportedly unplugged the phone in the room so that the child would not be disturbed.
What they did not realize was that security in the hotel is alerted anytime a phone is unplugged from the wall. This set off an automatic security check, which is standard procedure at the facility.
A supervisor conducting a check found the child asleep in the bed. The supervisor waited about 20 minutes and then contacted police.
The parents arrived back at the room a short time later, having been gone a total of about 45 minutes.
They were both arrested on charges of child neglect and transported to Broward County Jail. The father is reportedly unemployed, but the mother is a nursing student.
Given that such a charge could potentially affect her future job prospects, it will be critical for her to obtain skilled legal counsel.