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.
In addition to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office getting involved, the Department of Children and Families also are notified of neglect allegations. Even if the child neglect criminal charge is ultimately dropped, the Department can take your children away from you. You may have to participate in a parenting plan that consists of home visits, random drug urinalysis and parenting classes.
If you are contacted by either law enforcement or be the Department of Children and Families about allegations of child abuse or neglect, contact an experienced Jacksonville Child Neglect Attorney as soon as possible. Before talking to either department, talk to an attorney first. The police are there to make an arrest and are actually allowed to lie to you to get you to make admissions.
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 Duval County Child Abuse Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.