According to an article in the Sun Sentinel, 23-year-old Boynton Beach mother Nahomie Thermidor was arrested on Thursday and charged with child neglect, after her daughter received second degree burns from a falling cup of noodles.
Back on July 13th, her daughter was brought to a hospital with 3-inch by 2-inch burns on her chest; the problem, according to police, is that the school nurse told Thermidor to bring her daughter to the hospital two days earlier.
Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that the issue of child neglect is a tricky one. The truth is that while nobody wants to see a child injured or neglected, the fact that a child happens to be injured while in the care of a mother does not necessarily indicate that a child has been abused or neglected.
The mother, who was arrested and subsequently charged with child neglect, was released from Palm Beach County jail after posting $3,000 bail. If convicted, Thermidor faces up to either 5 years in prison and/or $5,000 in fines or 15 years in prison and/or $10,000 in fines. (The difference is contingent upon whether the alleged crime was a second-degree felony or a first-degree felony, which will be decided by prosecutors based on the severity of the burns and the degree to which the mother was responsible for the burns.)
Because all of our criminal defense lawyers are former prosecutors, we have a unique perspective on these types of criminal cases. As we have learned, these child neglect cases are rarely black-and-white. More often than not, there is a lot of grey area.
Florida State Statute 827.03 lays out the specifics of the crime of child neglect. According to the statute, neglect of a child is defined as a caregiver’s failure/omission to provide a child with the care necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health. Additionally, it can entail a caregiver’s failure to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.
The prosecutors in this case are alleging that Thermidor demonstrated child neglect by failing to care for her daughter in a manner necessary to ensure the child’s physical health; specifically, that the mother waited two days before taking her daughter to the hospital after being told to do so by a school nurse is being seen as an indication of such neglect.
The fact is, though, that there are many possible, legitimate reasons for which Thermidor did not rush her daughter to the hospital on the nurse’s advice. Perhaps a family friend, who is an actual doctor, advised her to treat the burn wounds at home. Maybe the mother did try to take her daughter to the hospital but had no way to get there. The fact is that nobody knows all of the facts, and so rushing to judgment on the mother’s actions (or lack thereof) would be imprudent.
We understand that the particularities of each case are incredibly important and that blanket judgments can be harmful. If you have been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward County or Miami-Dade County, please contact our criminal defense lawyers to schedule a free consultation. To do so, please call 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We look forward to speaking with you!