Articles Posted in Child Neglect

Our Delray Beach and Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that terrible things happen in life and, sometimes, nobody is legally to blame.
For example, earlier this month, a baby in Lauderhill died after being left in a hot car by the mother. Despite the death, a Lieutenant with the Lauderhill Police Department told the Palm Beach Post two weeks ago it’s likely that this incident was just a terrible accident, not a criminal act.

It’s often hard to tell where exactly one draws the line between (not unlawful) forgetfulness and accidental oversights on the one hand and criminal acts of negligence and/or abuse on the other; this matter which took place in Broward County highlights the difficulties quite well.
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In another key ruling issued by the Supreme Court this year, the justices unanimously agreed that what children tell their teachers can be used as evidence in child abuse cases.
As our Delray Beach and Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers know, the case made its way to the Supreme Court after a man was convicted of beating his girlfriend’s son; the defendant later argued that he was denied his right to confront his accuser because the trial court didn’t make the boy testify in court.

Despite not making him testify in court, statements the boy had made to his preschool teacher, allegedly describing the abuse, were permitted as evidence. As our lawyers know, and as the defendant’s lawyers argued, this raised a serious 6th Amendment issue.
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As we all know, different parents have different parenting styles. The customs employed in child-rearing vary by culture, region, and neighborhood — and many differences of opinion on the matter exist within single homes.
In this area of life, as our criminal defense lawyers know, the law frequently comes into play in the form of child abuse and child neglect laws, which are designed and enforced to ensure the well being of the most vulnerable members of society.

However, as we will discuss below, recent reports of child neglect charges in various questionable cases reveal that perhaps the line between acceptable parenting styles and instances of child abuse has been blurred; perhaps law enforcement authorities are turning parents into criminals — when they haven’t actually broken any laws.
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Over these past few summer months, as temperatures not only in South Florida but also around the country have been soaring, the offense of leaving one’s child in a hot car has been getting a lot of attention.
From a Georgia man being charged with murder in his son’s “hot car” death, to a woman being arrested for leaving her children in a car when she went into a building for a job interview, people all around the country have been opining about what should be done to stop this crime and what should be done to those by whom it is committed.

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know that this issue receives a bit of a twist in South Florida, where temperatures can be scorching year-round, meaning anytime a child is left in a car (even for a few seconds) the parent or caretaker could theoretically be charged with child neglect.
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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.
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While many norms differ from culture to culture, it’s fair to say that nearly every society opposes the use of unnecessary violence against children, typically regarded as the most vulnerable and helpless members of society.
However, as our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know from experience, the definitions of child abuse become blurred when one considers the role of physical punishments in the process of disciplining a child. What rights does a parent have in choosing how to teach their children how to behave? When does an instructive decision made by a parent become a criminal act?

A recent criminal case involving a man who slapped his 8-year-old son underscores the complexities of this issue. Although the man claimed all along that he was disciplining his child for cursing, social service workers and a family court initially decided that the physical punishments to which he subjected his son constituted child neglect.
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