The mysterious case of a missing child has suddenly taken a turn and is being investigated as a homicide, after police discovered the remains of a small child in the backyard where the child’s family used to live.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys know that many in the community – including law enforcement – are rushing to a quick judgment regarding the guilt of the parents.
We recognize that cases like this aren’t always what they seem, and the stakes are incredibly high.
The fact is, in many homicide cases, both police and prosecutors tend to hone in on one particular theory, and then proceed to gather facts that support that theory – rather than branching out to explore the many other possibilities of what may have occurred. In Florida and throughout the country, we have a long history of wrongful convictions for this very reason.
That’s also why it’s so critical if someone close to you has met an untimely death and you have any inkling at all that you may be suspected, to reach out to an experienced criminal defense lawyer. No matter how police or the media try to characterize it, such action doesn’t make you guilty.
And looking guilty is certainly better than being found guilty at trial.
This is especially true in cases involving infant deaths. It’s a sad and tragic fact that many infants under the age of 1 die for no medically identifiable reason. The blanket term for this is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Not only do these instances leave parents devastated and baffled, such tragedies could leave them potentially vulnerable to criminal prosecution if the police interpret any subsequent reaction as strange, or not in line with our “normal” perception of how a person should grieve.
It doesn’t make them guilty of murder, but you may have a hard time convincing police of that – particularly absent any other explanation.
Murder, as defined in Florida Statute 782.04, is the unlawful killing of a human being. Both first and second-degree murder are punishable by up to life in prison.
In this case, the parents are accused of lying to deflect questions from friends and relatives regarding the baby boy’s whereabouts for a year-and-a-half. He was 5 months-old the last time anyone saw him.
The parents are currently charged with cruelty toward a child causing great bodily harm, and the father is also facing an obstruction of justice charge due to providing false information. Additional charges, including homicide, are pending the outcome of a scheduled autopsy to confirm the identity of the skeletal remains found in the backyard.
Although the whereabouts of the child had been questioned by officials with the Department of Children and Families for some time, police reportedly did not launch a criminal investigation until recently. It’s unclear why, especially considering that the child’s mother called the DCF hotline 15 months after the boy went missing, claiming that despite the father’s claim that the baby was being cared for by his relatives, the father refused to bring the child to see her.
The media has been critical of the fact that this phone call was not enough to trigger a criminal investigation. Police say it appeared on the surface to be a custody dispute, which is why neither they nor DCF took any action.
If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.
Parents spun ‘web of lies’ to hide child’s disappearance, say police, Jan. 13, 2013, By Mike Clary, Sun Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
U.S. v. Burgos – Prosecutors Failed to Meet The Burden of Proof, Jan. 10, 2013, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog