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Child Protection

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Florida Statues 2021 827.03 Abuse, aggravated abuse, and neglect of a child; penalties

 

(1) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:

(a) “Aggravated child abuse” occurs when a person:

1. Commits aggravated battery on a child;

2. Willfully tortures, maliciously punishes, or willfully and unlawfully cages a child; or

3. Knowingly or willfully abuses a child and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child.

(b) “Child abuse” means:

1. Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child;

2. An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child; or

3. Active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.

(c) “Maliciously” means wrongfully, intentionally, and without legal justification or excuse. Maliciousness may be established by circumstances from which one could conclude that a reasonable parent would not have engaged in the damaging acts toward the child for any valid reason and that the primary purpose of the acts was to cause the victim unjustifiable pain or injury.

(d) “Mental injury” means injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment in the ability of the child to function within the normal range of performance and behavior as supported by expert testimony.

(e) “Neglect of a child” means:

1. A caregiver’s failure or omission to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child; or

2. A caregiver’s failure to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.

 

Except as otherwise provided in this section, neglect of a child may be based on repeated conduct or on a single incident or omission that results in, or could reasonably be expected to result in, serious physical or mental injury, or a substantial risk of death, to a child.

 

 

(2) OFFENSES.—

(a) A person who commits aggravated child abuse commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(b) A person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(c) A person who knowingly or willfully abuses a child without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(d) A person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.(3) 

 

EXPERT TESTIMONY.—

(a) Except as provided in paragraph

(b), a physician may not provide expert testimony in a criminal child abuse case unless the physician is a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 or has obtained certification as an expert witness pursuant to s. 458.3175 or s. 459.0066.

(b) A physician may not provide expert testimony in a criminal child abuse case regarding mental injury unless the physician is a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 who has completed an accredited residency in psychiatry or has obtained certification as an expert witness pursuant to s. 458.3175 or s. 459.0066.

(c) A psychologist may not give expert testimony in a criminal child abuse case regarding mental injury unless the psychologist is licensed under chapter 490.

(d) The expert testimony requirements of this subsection apply only to criminal child abuse and neglect cases pursuant to this chapter, dependency cases pursuant to chapter 39, and cases involving sexual battery of a child pursuant to chapter 794 and not to family court cases.

 

 History.—s. 1, ch. 4721, 1899; s. 1, ch. 4971, 1901; GS 3236, 3238; RGS 5069, 5071; s. 1, ch. 9331, 1923; CGL 7171, 7173; s. 1, ch. 65-113; s. 1, ch. 70-8; s. 940, ch. 71-136; s. 49, ch. 74-383; s. 30, ch. 75-298; s. 1, ch. 84-238; s. 8, ch. 96-322; s. 16, ch. 99-168; s. 1, ch. 2003-130; s. 9, ch. 2012-155; s. 6, ch. 2015-177; s. 5, ch. 2017-153.Note.—Former s. 828.04.

 

 

Florida Department of Children and Families 

Frequently Asked Questions:

 1. What is abuse?

 

For children: "Abuse" means any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual injury or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. Abuse of a child includes acts or omissions. Corporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child.

 

For adults: "Abuse" means any willful act or threatened act by a relative, caregiver, or household member which causes or is likely to cause significant impairment to a vulnerable adult's physical, mental, or emotional health. Abuse includes acts and omissions.

 

What is the child abuse law in Florida? from Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer Blog

Florida’s child abuse statute is §827.03(2)(c), which makes it a third degree felony punishable by up to five (5) years.  There are also other laws related to similar conduct, such as aggravated child abuse, child neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, however, we’ll keep our discussion limited to child abuse only.

Under Florida State §827.03(b), there are three ways to commit child abuse:

  1. intentionally inflict physical or mental injury upon a child,
  2. commit an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child, or
  3. actively encourage a person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.

So, under Florida law, you do not have to physically touch a child or cause an actual injury to be convicted of child abuse.  Consider these examples of what could be considered child abuse.

 

 

 

 

 

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