Accused of Child Abuse in Tampa?

When a parent, grandparent, or other caregiver is accused of child abuse or neglect, it is cause for alarm. Retaining custody of children can be a challenging situation. You are innocent until proven guilty, but it won’t feel that way. A call may have come into the Child Abuse Hotline from another party. The reporting individual may have accused you anonymously, making matters worse.

Once the call is received, the accusation must be investigated. The Child Protective Investigations Division of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was once responsible for performing these investigations. In 2023, the Florida legislature passed a law requiring all child abuse cases to be investigated by the state’s Department of Children and Families. Many of the personnel who formerly worked for the Sheriff’s office are now working for the Department of Children and Families.

What Does the Investigation Involve?

After an accusation of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment, an investigator is dispatched to the residence. The investigator will interview both parents and children, evaluate the living conditions in the home, and decide whether a child should be removed from the home. It is an unfortunate situation, but false accusations of child abuse can occur. If another person makes a false accusation of child abuse, law enforcement will be notified. Even in cases involving a false accusation, an investigation is among the most frightening experiences for a parent. The agency has the right to remove a child, with devastating consequences.

After an Investigation for Child Abuse in Tampa

In some cases, the investigator finds no evidence that a child has been abused or neglected, and the investigation will be closed. Some parents may be required to change some aspects of a living situation with a “safety plan,” which will resolve any unsafe conditions believed to pose a risk to the health and safety of a child. Some investigations will lead to an intervention with the child removed from the home. A hearing will be held within 24 hours, determining the next steps in the process.

How Many Children Are Removed Each Year?

The percentage of children removed from their homes is over 4.35 out of every 100 parents investigated – the highest removal rate in the state and reason for concern. While many of these removals may be justified, others are an injustice, forcing parents to jump through several legal hoops to have a child or children returned to the home. Ensure you have the protection of an attorney if a child has been removed from your home – as a parent, you have rights, and attorney Patrick B. Courtney will do everything possible to pursue a positive outcome.

Law Enforcement and Social Services – How They Work Together in Tampa

When law enforcement is called regarding domestic abuse, and children are found to be present in the home, law enforcement may contact Social Services – the Department of Children & Families. Children who are living in homes where domestic abuse has been occurring may be removed by the agency. Children found living in homes where drug abuse is occurring may also be removed.

Accused of Child Abuse in Tampa? Get Help Now.

Following an accusation of child abuse, contact an attorney. Your children may experience severe emotional distress due to the removal, and having them returned home is a priority, both for the child and for you.

What Are the Penalties for Child Abuse in Tampa?

A conviction for child abuse or neglect can lead to severe penalties, including jail time and fines, mandatory sex offender registration – and your children in foster care. If you are facing any allegation of child abuse, your first step is to ensure you have an attorney who will fight to protect your rights and seek all the options to resolve the situation positively.

False Accusations of Child Abuse

In some divorce cases, one parent may falsely accuse the other of child abuse. These accusations are often part of an effort to gain sole custody of a child. If you have been falsely accused, reach out to attorney Patrick B. Courtney immediately.

Accused of Child Abuse, Neglect, or Abandonment?

Under Florida law, three categories of offenses can be filed regarding child abuse, all of which are felony offenses:

  • Child abuse: This can be emotional, physical, or sexual abuse of a child.
  • Child neglect: This criminal offense is filed when investigators believe that a child’s caretaker, whether a parent, legal guardian, or other adult member of a household, has failed to protect the child’s mental and physical health. The issues evaluated include the availability of food, clothing, shelter, supervision, and medical services. tools
  • Child abandonment: In cases in which a child has been deserted by a caregiver, leaving a child with no intent to return, with the risk of harm to the child.
    A felony conviction can change your life forever. A child neglect conviction can lead to a penalty of up to five years in state prison and fines of up to $5,000. In some cases, the prosecutor may file a third-degree felony, which carries penalties of 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

How Can Child Abuse Charges Be Defended?

Nothing could be more serious than being accused of child abuse – even if you are innocent. The prosecutor has the “burden of proof” and must prove that a caregiver intentionally caused physical or mental harm to a child, performed acts that could be reasonably expected to lead to physical or emotional harm to the child, or acted to encourage such acts by another party.

What is Aggravated Child Abuse in Tampa?

A charge of “aggravated child abuse” is filed when it is believed a parent or other caregiver battered, tortured, maliciously punished, or caged a child or willfully abused a child, leading to great bodily harm, disability, or disfigurement.

If you have been accused of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment and are facing criminal charges, contact attorney Patrick B. Courtney immediately. As a former prosecutor, seasoned trial lawyer, and talented legal professional, your case will be in the hands of one of the finest legal minds in Tampa. Call us today at (813) 252-1529 at once.