Articles Posted in Child Abuse in Jacksonville

A Duval County firefighter was arrested this week for child abuse in Jacksonville.  According to an article on, the man was arrested last week in relation to an incident at the end of March.  He is accused of removing his child from the bed during the night and taking the child to the garage.  The accused allegedly turned on an industrial fan and beat the child on the buttocks and upper thighs with a wooden 2×4 and his hand over the course of several hours.  The firefighter then allegedly pinched and kicked the child.  According to public records, the child’s backside was covered in bruises.

The charge the man is facing is child abuse, which is a third degree felony in Jacksonville.  “Child abuse” is defined as intentionally inflicting physical or mental injury on a child, intentionally committing an act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child, or active encouragement of a child to commit an act that results or could be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a minor.

Corporal punishment, or physical punishment, is still legal in the United States.  You are allowed to physically discipline your child.  That being said, police are arresting parents at a higher rate in recent years for child abuse charges in Duval County and all over Florida.  If a child has ANY mark on them and the child tells authorities that the mark came from physical punishment, the Department of Children and Families and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office are most likely going to contact the parent or guardian.  It is up to the officer that interviews the parent or guardian to make the call on whether or not to arrest.  Out of an abundance of caution, many parents are arrested on this felony charge.  Once the arrest is made, a judge make a decision about bond and the parent will have a court date approximately 2 weeks from arrest.  This is a critical time.  If you have been arrested for child abuse or child neglect, contact an experienced child abuse attorney in Duval County immediately.  Just because you have been arrested does not mean that the state attorney’s office will file charges.  Whenever anyone is arrested on any felony or misdemeanor in Jacksonville, a prosecutor has the discretion to file or not.  A criminal defense lawyer can accumulate mitigating information and provide evidence to present the whole story.

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, 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.

A teacher’s aide with the Duval County Public School system has been arrested on two counts of child abuse.  According to an article on, the woman was arrested in Jacksonville on Mother’s Day for the two felony charges.  In the arrest and booking report, police say they were called out to a “domestic dispute” and spoke with the alleged victim’s, the aide’s children.  They told police that the woman became angry because all she got for Mother’s Day was a card.  They claim the woman began to throw things around the room and hit the child with a metal broom multiple times on the arms and legs.  The children also claim the woman punched one in the mouth and pulled her hair.  Police said they observed welt marks on the child, along with a swollen lip and bruises.  The evidence technician was called to the scene and photographed the alleged injuries.

In Florida, there are different levels of child abuse.  Child abuse, in Jacksonville and all over the state, is defined as intentionally inflicting physical or mental injury on a child, committing an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury on a child or actively encouraging another to commit an act that could result in the child being harmed.  While we all know what physical injury is, mental injury is defined by Florida statute.  It is injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child evidenced by substantial impairment in the ability of the child to function normally.  “Basic” child abuse is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison if the State can show that great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement is caused by the abuse.  Aggravated child abuse is more serious in the eyes of Florida law and is a first degree felony.  Aggravated child abuse is when a person commits an aggravated battery on a child, willfully tortures, maliciously punishes or willfully cages a child or knowingly commits child abuse causing great bodily harm, disability or disfigurement.  If convicted of this aggravated form, the maximum a defendant is facing is thirty years in prison.

In each of the aide’s child abuse charges, the judge issued a $15003 Jacksonville bond for each.  If she used a Duval County bondsman, she will be required to pay ten percent of that amount and will have to post collateral to cover the rest.  Monetary bonds are placed on people charged with crimes to encourage them to make future court appearances.  When the case is over, the bond is discharged.

A woman was recently arrested in St. Johns County, Florida on several charges resulting from her being found sleeping with a baby on her.  According to an article on, Police say the woman was parked at a gas station and was seen sleeping with a child in her lap.  Police checked the plates on the car and found out the car was stolen from another state.  Upon searching the car, police allegedly found heroin and drug paraphernalia along with used baby items.  The woman was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, child neglect, grand theft auto and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The basis for the child neglect charge is most likely the several used diapers found in the car along with bad milk.  In order to prove a child neglect charge in Florida, the State Attorney’s Office has to prove that the woman willfully failed to provide the child with the care, supervision and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical or mental health.  Neglect of a child in St. Johns County can be repeated actions or a single incident.  Certainly, being passed out with drugs in a car can be seen as purposely failing to provide the baby with supervision.  Neglect of a child is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Heroin is considered a controlled substance in Florida and possession of it is also a third degree felony.  Syringes were found along with the heroin.  This is the basis of the possession of paraphernalia charge in St. Johns County.  Drug paraphernalia, in Florida, is defined as any equipment, products or materials of any kind intended for putting illegal drugs in the body.

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.

A woman from St. Augustine is facing eleven criminal charges after allegedly fleeing from police.  According to an article in The Florida Times Union, police received several 911 calls reporting a car driving erratic and aggressively.  After police tried to stop the vehicle, the woman allegedly accelerated rapidly and intentionally rammed occupied vehicles.  The woman apparently had two small children in the car and eventually stopped after crashing into another car.  Even when police got their hands on the woman, they claim she continued to pull away.  The woman is facing one count of reckless driving, two counts of fleeing and eluding police, four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of aggravated battery with injury, two counts of child neglect and resisting an officer without violence.

The most serious of the charges are the felonies.  In Florida, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.  In order to prove this charge, the prosecutor must show that the woman threatened someone with violence, had the ability to carry that violence out, put the victim in fear of the violence and used a deadly weapon to threaten. In this case, the deadly weapon would be the car she was driving.  Aggravated battery is intentionally causing great bodily harm to someone and is a second degree felony in Florida.

The charges of child neglect may seem not so obvious.  Just having the children and erratically driving a vehicle could be considered child neglect or abuse in St. Johns County.  Under Florida law, neglect of a child occurs when a guardian fails to provide the child with care or supervision necessary to maintain the child’s physical health.  It is a prudent-person standard, which means the standard is what would a reasonable person do to protect the child.  Each child neglect charge is a third degree felony and the maximum punishment is five years in prison.  Fleeing and eluding the police is a second degree felony.  In order to prove this charge, the State Attorney’s Office has to prove the woman operated a vehicle and willfully refused to stop the car after being ordered to stop by an authorized law enforcement officer.

A man is being held in the Pretrial Detention Facility after being charged with aggravated child abuse in Jacksonville.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the mother of the child left her boyfriend, the accused, home alone with the two year-old while she went to work.  The woman told police her boyfriend told her he disciplined her daughter because the child misbehaved, according to the report.  The woman reported that the child had cuts and marks when she returned home and the child passed away later that day.  Homicide detectives are still investigating the abuse case and it may turn into a murder case before all is said and done.

It is unclear whether or not the man was interviewed by investigators before or after being arrested.  Police will always try to get a potential suspect to tell their side of the story prior to arresting them.  Police are allowed, even taught in interrogation classes, to lie to suspects to get the suspect to talk about their case.  If police ask you to come down to the police station to “clear things up”, you probably getting handcuffed at the conclusion of the interview.  If you are ever asked to be interviewed by any law enforcement agency, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney first. Discuss your rights before giving them up.  More often than not, there is no benefit for you to talk to the police.

The man was arrested for aggravated child abuse, which is a first degree felony in Florida.  The maximum exposure is thirty years in prison if that is all the man is charged with.  If he is eventually charged with murder, the potential penalties could go even higher.  To prove this Duval County child abuse charge, the State Attorney’s Office have to prove the man willfully caused great bodily harm to the child (aggravated battery), or tortured or caged the child.  Willfully, as defined by Florida statute, means knowingly, intentionally and purposely.  If the man exercised his right to remain silent, it may be difficult for the prosecution to prove the man purposely harmed the child.  The State will attempt to use any alleged conversation with the girl’s mother as evidence against the man.

A young mother has been arrested in Duval County after allegedly leaving her two young children with no supervision, according to a report in the Florida Times Union.  The mother was arrested on one count of child neglect, which is a third degree felony in Florida.  Police claim that the mother left her two children, ages three and five, alone while she went to work.  Apparently someone, probably a neighbor, reported this to the police.  The woman’s children have been placed in foster care pending a family placement while this criminal case progresses.

To be convicted on child neglect in Jacksonville, the State Attorney’s Office must prove that a child’s caregiver, usually a parent, does not provide the child or children with the care, supervision and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health.  A caregiver can be a parent, adult in the house with the child or a person left to watch a child.  A person can also commit  child neglect if they failed to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse or exploitation by another person.  The neglect can be ongoing or only occur only once.

If a person neglects a child and in doing so the child suffers great bodily harm, the person is facing a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.  The neglect charge is lowered to a third degree felony if there is no injury stemming from the neglect.  If the person arrested has no prior criminal history and there is no injury, the defendant is eligible for a Diversion program through the State Attorney’s Office.  This program is discretionary and once accepted, a defendant may have to participate in parenting classes as well as other conditions.  Once the program is complete, all charges will be dropped.

Lonna Barton, the mother of deceased toddler, Lonzie Barton, will be sentenced in Jacksonville this Friday, March 4th.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, she will be sentenced by the judge with a maximum exposure of five years in prison.  Ms. Barton entered pleas of guilty to a Duval County felony of child neglect and a misdemeanor charge of giving false information to the police.  Her plea agreement included the stipulation that she testify truthfully against her co-defendant Ruben Ebron.  Her testimony became unnecessary after she entered her plea agreement because Ebron finally gave his account of what happened and led the JSO to where the child’s body was hidden.  Ebron has already been sentenced to twenty years in prison in this Duval criminal case.

The Jacksonville Child Neglect charge is a third degree felony in Florida.  To sustain this charge, the prosecutor’s office would have to prove that Ms. Barton willfully, or by culpable negligence by neglecting the child as the child’s caregiver.  Neglect is defined as failing to provide the child with care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health.  This can include not giving the child the proper food for growth, shelter, clothes, supervision or medicine a reasonable person would feel essential for a healthy child.

The Jacksonville misdemeanor Ms. Barton entered a plea to is giving false information to a law enforcement officer during an investigation.  This is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.  To prove this charge, the state attorney’s office would have to prove she knowingly and willingly gave false information to law enforcement while they were investigating a felony charge.  Intent to mislead the police is a necessary element to this charge.

A Jacksonville police officer was charged last month with child abuse, accused of spanking her son with a plastic hanger.  The incident was reported to police after the child told someone at his school, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The school official is legally required to notify police. The officer, a 12-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, is charged with child abuse. The charge is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison.

A potential felony conviction could also mean the end of the officer’s law enforcement career. Most law enforcement agencies do not allow people who are convicted of or plead guilty of a felony to be sworn officers. Even if there wasn’t a legal requirement, there likely would be problems for the officer. There is a distinct difference between the criminal justice system and the punishments employers can impose on their employees. And when it comes to law enforcement, perception can be just as important as the facts and legal outcome of the case. Even if the case was reduced to a misdemeanor as part of a plea agreement, which can happen in these types of Jacksonville Felony Cases, that would still cause a perception problem for the officer. The officer chose to go on unpaid leave until the case is resolved, the newspaper reported. Most of these types of cases never make headlines and are never covered by the media, but that always changes when there is a police officer who is the subject of the investigation.

Jacksonville Child Abuse charges can be similar to Jacksonville Sex Crimes in terms of the public’s inclination to assume guilt the minute an accusation is made. People often have their mind up once the person is charged or arrested, without waiting for the case to play itself out through the court system. And once the accusation is made, it can be extremely difficult for the person to clear his or her name – especially with the amount of media coverage that often comes with the arrest.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney represents people accused of all types of criminal charges – from misdemeanors on up to serious felonies with potential life sentences – but knows that any charge is serious for the person who is arrested. From employment considerations to the fines and potential incarceration, our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will look at all of the potential consequences and explain them to you or your loved one so you can make an informed decision going forward.

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