There have been a rash of recent child abuse charges in South Florida, and our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys want to make sure that anyone facing charges of this nature are fully aware of their rights.
We recognize how devastating these kind of allegations can be, not only for your career, but also for your family. Some people end up being torn apart by it.
It becomes much harder to make amends when a person spends a significant amount of time in jail or prison for something they either did not do or that was taken out of context or exaggerated.
The allegations lodged just over the last month in South Florida run the gamut, and show just how broadly our child abuse statutes can be applied.
First, there was a 50-year-old special needs teacher accused of cruelty toward a child by inflicting physical harm. He is being held on $2,500 bond after a 9-year-old autistic child accused him of shoving his head to the floor sometime last year. While we do know that children with special needs are potentially vulnerable to abuse, we also know that they can’t necessarily be held as reliable witnesses. Their perception of time and interpretation of other facts may lead them to exaggerate details that would be critical in a case like this particularly as there is apparently no physical or video evidence.
The second case involves a Lake Worth man accused of shaking his infant son and causing brain damage. The 5-month-old was reportedly in his father’s care before his mother returned home to find him sleeping, yet displaying odd moans and movements. She called 911, and the child’s injuries were believed to have been consistent with someone shaking it -retinal hemorrhages in both eyes, brain swelling and brain death – all likely to lead to the child’s death. The father at one point said he dropped the child while giving it a bath, but then later told a detective he shook the baby because he was frustrated. He is charged with aggravated child abuse and child neglect, though he could be charged with murder if the child dies.
The third case involves a Coral Springs woman who reportedly struck her son on the head with an iron after learning he had stolen food from a nearby store. The boy, who was believed to be in middle school, told investigators he was forbidden from opening the refrigerator and ate once daily. The wounds from the iron reportedly were left untreated for about a week, though it’s unclear how those may have gone unnoticed by school officials. The mother is charged with cruelty toward a child, child neglect and contributing tot he delinquency of a child.
In a fourth recent case, a Boynton Beach woman is accused of making her 17-year-old niece kneel on a metal cheese grater for several hours at a time as punishment for skipping school. Other previous punishments included beatings with a belt and a threat to poke the child’s eyes out. The woman would later tell investigators that she sometimes slaps the girl because she becomes frustrated in dealing with her, but she denied beating her or the cheese grater punishment. She was arrested on a charge of child abuse.
These kinds of charges have the potential for a defendant to serve many years in prison if convicted, per Florida Statute 827.03.
If you are arrested, do not offer a statement to police and immediately request the representation of an attorney.
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.
Teen forced to kneel on cheese grater for hours, police say, May 2, 2013, By Brett Clarkson, Sun Sentinel
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Boca Raton Domestic Violence Arrest Shines Light on Harmful Publication Practices, May 1, 2013, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog