A man is being held in the Pretrial Detention Facility after being charged with aggravated child abuse in Jacksonville. According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the mother of the child left her boyfriend, the accused, home alone with the two year-old while she went to work. The woman told police her boyfriend told her he disciplined her daughter because the child misbehaved, according to the report. The woman reported that the child had cuts and marks when she returned home and the child passed away later that day. Homicide detectives are still investigating the abuse case and it may turn into a murder case before all is said and done.
It is unclear whether or not the man was interviewed by investigators before or after being arrested. Police will always try to get a potential suspect to tell their side of the story prior to arresting them. Police are allowed, even taught in interrogation classes, to lie to suspects to get the suspect to talk about their case. If police ask you to come down to the police station to “clear things up”, you probably getting handcuffed at the conclusion of the interview. If you are ever asked to be interviewed by any law enforcement agency, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney first. Discuss your rights before giving them up. More often than not, there is no benefit for you to talk to the police.
The man was arrested for aggravated child abuse, which is a first degree felony in Florida. The maximum exposure is thirty years in prison if that is all the man is charged with. If he is eventually charged with murder, the potential penalties could go even higher. To prove this Duval County child abuse charge, the State Attorney’s Office have to prove the man willfully caused great bodily harm to the child (aggravated battery), or tortured or caged the child. Willfully, as defined by Florida statute, means knowingly, intentionally and purposely. If the man exercised his right to remain silent, it may be difficult for the prosecution to prove the man purposely harmed the child. The State will attempt to use any alleged conversation with the girl’s mother as evidence against the man.