Child care operator charged after Jacksonville toddler drowns in pool

A Jacksonville day care operator was arrested on a manslaughter charge last week after a 2-year-old boy drowned in a pool on her property last month. The charges were announced three days after the boy died, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Jan Marie Buchanan was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. She is also charged with operating a child care center without a license, though she was in the process of seeking a license, the newspaper reported. Operating a child care without a license is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in the county jail, so the manslaughter charge is obviously the key charge in this Jacksonville Child Abuse Case. Buchanan was being held in the Duval County jail on a $250,000 bond, meaning it would take $25,000 for her to be released awaiting a trial.

Buchanan told police she had been swimming with the seven children in her care and then brought them all inside, the newspaper reported. She went to go change an infant and, while she did, the boy made it outside through a six or seven-inch opening by a sliding glass door. The lock to the gate to the pool was broken and the alarm that sounds when anyone enters the pool had been turned off due to rain the night before, the newspaper reported. The facts sound as if Buchanan normally took necessary precautions to protect the children in her care, but that this was a perfect storm of events that led to the death of the young boy. This is not a Jacksonville Child Abuse Case where a day care operator is hitting or physically abusing children. And while a license likely would not have prevented the boy’s death, the lack of a license was probably a significant factor in the state filing the charges – and could be a reason they may choose not to negotiate.

The boy’s parents have been supportive of the day care on their Facebook pages, but did not comment to the newspaper once charges were announced. It will be interesting to see if these charges end up being reduced at all in this Jacksonville Child Abuse Case. While the victim or, in this case the family of the victim, doesn’t drive the bus in terms of the level of charges, prosecutors definitely keep their victims’ wishes in mind when making filing and charging decisions. As time and reality sets in, the family may be more willing to see her prosecuted. Or the state may decide, as they say in many cases, that they are looking out for the victim and are the only ones who can see to it that justice is served.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Child Abuse Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.