A Jacksonville man was recently jailed for making a false report of child abuse to the Florida Department of Children & Families, News4Jax.com reports.
Charges of child abuse in Jacksonville, or in this case making a false report of child abuse, are very serious allegations. Everyone knows that children are clumsy and sometimes don’t have the mental capacity to understand the risks they are taking when they go too far or do too much.
But authorities sometimes over-charge in child abuse cases because they know these cases will be followed in the news media. So, rather than allow a person to “get away” with a crime, they almost always file charges. Our Jacksonville child abuse defense attorneys have seen innocent parents charged with hurting a child they would never imagine harming.
In this case, the man was sentenced to 45 days in jail after being charged with making a false report of child abuse, the TV station reports. The report doesn’t detail the specifics of the charge. He was charged with a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Filing a false report in Florida means reporting abuse, neglect or abandonment of a child to the state’s child abuse hotline when the purpose of the call is to harass, embarrass or harm another person, gain financially, get the custody of a child or otherwise benefit from making the call.
DCF investigators must see the children who are allegedly abused within a certain time period according to the law and officials say that false reports, while rare, can take away from the time spent with real abuse victims.
But it’s often DCF investigators that lead to charges being filed against parents. They typically get the first call to go a house where child abuse or neglect is alleged, sometimes before police are even notified. And it can be an investigator, who has no training in law enforcement, making determinations that abuse has happened.
While it appears this defendant got a good deal if the charges were actually substantiated, child abuse defendants often don’t get such consideration.
According to Florida Statute 827.03, child abuse means:
- Intentionally inflicting physical or mental pain upon a child.
- An intentional act that could be expected to result in mental or physical injury to a child.
- Active encouragement of another to commit acts that could result in mental or physical injury to a child.
Any parent would be quick to tell you they play with their kids, run around with their kids and sometimes even wrestle with their kids in order to entertain them. And you will see cases where this playful atmosphere turns tragic.
The key to this statute is the term “intentional.” Attorneys have battled over this word for years as it means the defendant meant to commit this crime. An accident shouldn’t apply. Sadly, police will charge a parent or guardian anyway and let the court system decide if the charges apply.
By that point, the defendant is already scarred, their reputation in shambles, all while their child may have been injured and dealing with recovery. It’s irresponsible, but it happens every day. Don’t let the state accuse you falsely of child abuse when it’s undeserved.
If you need a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call Mussallem and Associate, PA at 904-365-5200 for a free consultation.