A man from Middleburg, Florida was recently arrested for allegedly leaving his two year-old child in his car in the middle of summer. The man was arrested for felony child neglect in Clay County, which is a second degree felony in Florida. According to an article on news4jax..com, the man took a nap and the child got into the car and became trapped. After discovering that the child was missing, the man and the child’s mother ran around looking for the child. The boy was discovered in the locked car, unconscious. The boy is currently in the intensive care unit.
If the state of Florida, child neglect is defined as a caregiver/parent/guardian’s failure or omission to provide the child with the care, supervision and services that are required to keep the child physically and mentally healthy. This includes providing food, clothes, shelter, supervision, medication and medical services. In this case, the man is currently charged with willfully, or by culpable negligence, neglecting a child and that neglect caused great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement. This case is a tragedy for all involved, including the man arrested. The state attorney’s office will likely not charge him with “willfully” leaving the child in the car, but can justify the child neglect charge based on culpable negligence. If the charge is proven then the child sustained great bodily harm due to the father’s negligence.
Prosecutors assigned to any criminal case in Clay County have broad discretion in what they charge. Assistant state attorneys can file the charge that the person was arrested for, add more charges, drop charges, reduce a felony charge to a misdemeanor or refer a defendant to a pretrial diversion program. That is why it is so important to call an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. Even if you have not been arrested yet, but believe you may be, call. Most attorneys offer free consultations, and here at The Mussallem Law Firm, we are available anytime to discuss your criminal issue.