Former day care owner gets 20 days in prison over the next 10 years for role in child’s drowning

A day-care owner pleaded guilty to a reduced charged in the drowning death of a child and will have to spend two days in jail for each of the next 10 years as part of her punishment. Jan Buchanan pleaded guilty to culpable negligence and must report to jail on the birthday and on the anniversary of the death of a 2-year-old who drowned in a pool at her home, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Buchanan was originally charged with Duval County aggravated manslaughter of a child, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in state prison. The charge was reduced to a second-degree felony with a maximum of 15 years in prison but, given the negotiated sentence, the actual charge isn’t as big of a deal.

Buchanan was the only adult in the home and took seven kids under the age of four swimming in the yard, the newspaper reported, Once they were done, she brought the children inside and was tending to an infant. She lost sight of the 2-year-old for between 10 and 15 minutes, then found a sliding door open and the boy in the pool, the newspaper reported. Buchanan, who was in the process of renewing her state child care license, had the charge of operating an unlicensed day care dropped. Other parameters of the plea deal include 10 years of probation, during which Buchanan cannot operate a child care center. As part of the plea in this Jacksonville Felony Case, she also must give $2,000 a year to Safe Kids, an organization that promotes water safety, the newspaper reported.

This is the state’s way of trying to make a public relations move and make people forget that a woman who was charged with a crime and facing 30 years in prison is only serving 20 days in jail for a Jacksonville Felony Case. The child’s parents supported Buchanan and remain friends with her, so it they were not likely to be on board for a lengthy prison sentence. And while the state doesn’t need to run everything by a victim or victim’s family, prosecutors generally prefer to have them in agreement with a sentence when possible – particularly if the case is going to end up going to a trial. From the perspective of a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, it appears to be a deal you’d have to go along with – excessively personal or not. The state can structure it and spin it any way it wants, but the bottom line is Buchanan is looking at less than three weeks in jail as opposed to three decades in prison. Sometimes it takes a creatively structured agreement, or simply letting the state have its day, to get the best deal in a Jacksonville Felony Case. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney leaves no option off the table when it comes to negotiating on behalf of her clients in Jacksonville Felony Cases, or any case in the criminal justice system.

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 Felony Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.