State prosecutors have decided not to charge a Jacksonville man who kicked his stepson down a ramp at a skate park, reportedly to try to teach the 6-year-old to not be afraid to fall. The incident was caught on tape by fellow youth skateboarder and once it went online, it went viral and ended up of newscasts across the nation. Shortly thereafter, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office opened up a criminal investigation, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. That investigation is now complete and the State Attorney’s Office last month chose not to pursue charges against the 27-year-old man.
Prosecutors conceded that there was child abuse in the incident, but that it was not severe enough for the man to go to prison, especially since he did not have a criminal record, the newspaper reported. Had the man been charged, it would have been a child abuse case. Jacksonville Child Abuse Cases vary in severity, but have one thing in common: All are felonies and would have the man facing serious time in state prison. A Jacksonville Child Abuse Case can be anywhere from a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison, on up to a first-degree felony with a maximum of 30 years in prison.
The state takes a variety of factors into consideration when deciding whether or not to file a Jacksonville Child Abuse Case. In this case, the suspect argued he was not trying to hurt the boy, but instead teach him that if he fell down the ramp, he’d survive, and there was nothing to be afraid of. The Florida Department of Children and Families also did its own investigation and the man has since completed anger management courses, which prosecutors cited in their decision not to prosecute. Also, the boy’s mother – who is the wife of the defendant – did not want the state to prosecute the case. Now, the victim’s family does not always dictate the decision on charging a crime, and nor should it. But the state did the right thing here in considering the wishes of the mother, and paying attention to what really happens to the family if the man is sent to prison for several years.
The state wrote the decision is the difficult spot between protecting children, while still allowing parents some autonomy in how they chose to raise their own children. This Jacksonville Child Abuse Case is an important example of prosecutors looking at the entirety of the case and its impact, rather than rushing to make a move that might be more popular with the public. The video elicits outrage from parents, and rightfully so. But that doesn’t make it criminal. The checks and balances of our criminal justice system are there for a reason. Our Jacksonville Child Abuse Attorney understands the rights parents have to teach their children in their own way, but also knows the limitations of that right when it comes to the law.
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.