Jacksonville mother charged with child abuse after child found in car

A woman in Jacksonville was arrested on the charge of child abuse after being accused of leaving her child in a hot car with no air conditioning.  According to a report in a report from News4Jax, the woman allegedly left the small child in the car for a minimum of forty minutes outside the woman’s place of work.  A passerby saw the child in the car and noticed she was unattended and sweating.  The witness contacted police.  Officers noted that while the child was very sweaty and hot, the child did not appear to be physically harmed.  After being arrested, the woman’s bond was set at $20,003.00.

In order to be convicted of child abuse in Duval County, the State Attorney’s Office must prove certain things.  The defendant must have knowingly or willfully:  1.  intentionally inflicted physical or mental injury on the child or 2.  committed an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to the child or 3.  actively encourage someone else to commit the act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental harm.  If the State goes forward with the charge against the woman in this case, they will probably be proceeding on the theory that her act of leaving the child in a hot car could be expected to cause physical harm to the girl.

When someone is arrested in Jacksonville on any charge, the judge in first appearance court sets a bond.  In this case, the woman’s bond in $20,003.00.  It is unclear whether or not the woman has any criminal history, which would be a factor in determining her Duval County bond.  Judges must also consider whether or not the woman is a danger to the community and whether or not the woman will likely flee the jurisdiction.  Most Jacksonville bondsmen require ten percent of the bond as payment to get out of jail.  In this case, the woman or her family would have to pay the Duval County bond company $2003.00 and have collateral to cover the rest of the bond should she not appear at a future date.

An assistant state attorney will be assigned to the woman’s case in the next week.  That prosecutor will be making a decision about whether or not to file the case as a Jacksonville felony, reduce the charge to a misdemeanor, drop the case outright, or send the woman’s case to a diversion program.  Once the program is completed by a defendant, the charge is completely dropped.  It is fairly common for child abuse cases in Jacksonville to be considered for the Pretrial Intervention Program if the child was not badly harmed and the defendant has no criminal history.  This is a diversion program that is discretionary, which means that the prosecutor’s office has the sole discretion to send someone there.  That is why it is so important to consult with an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible after an arrest.  The attorney you hire for the child abuse charge can meet with the prosecutor before he or she makes the decision on what to do with your case and present mitigating information on your behalf.

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.