Two adults charged with child neglect in Jacksonville after 3-year-old boy shoots himself

Two adults in an apartment when a 3-year-old boy shot himself in the chest are facing Jacksonville felony charges in connection with the shooting. Barbara Anne Powell, 22, and Gregory Eugene Chisholm, 24, are both charged with child neglect and culpable negligence in Duval County, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Chisholm also picked up a charge for violating his probation on a domestic violence case, the newspaper reported.

The boy’s injuries are not life-threatening and it was not clear from police whether Powell and Chisholm are his parents, according to the newspaper. Another child in the apartment said her daddy always keeps a gun under the mattress, according to the newspaper. Both child abuse and culpable negligence are third-degree felonies in Florida and are punishable by up to five years in prison, meaning both Powell and Chisholm could be looking at up to 10 years in prison.

One issue will be who actually owns the gun. Powell initially told police the gun was hers; then she said it was Chisholm’s, according to the newspaper. Adults have an obligation, according to law, to keep firearms out of the reach of minors. The law does provide an exception if the firearm is kept “in a location which a reasonable person would have believed to be secure.” That will likely be a key in this case, but Chisholm may have already cost himself that defense. According to the newspaper report, Chisholm told police it was careless to leave the gun under the mattress.

Police officers aren’t lawyers, but they generally know enough about the law to get the necessary words or phrases out of suspects. In this case, that statement – if accurate and obtained properly – could sink Chisholm. That is a prime example of how important it is to talk with a lawyer before talking to police. Our Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer knows the details the state needs to charge someone with a particular crime – like culpable negligence. When the police are investigating you for a crime, they are not there to help you. They have handcuffs for a reason. If you are contacted by the police, call a criminal defense attorney immediately. You have a right to remain silent and you should exercise it.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County criminal lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.