Two parents were arrested in Jacksonville recently after authorities found a malnourished and abused infant dead in their home, First Coast News is reporting.
Charges of child abuse in Jacksonville will always make headlines, which can make defending a case more difficult. Anyone facing child abuse charges should have an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer on their side as soon as possible.
Florida Statute 827.03 defines child abuse in Florida and lays out the possible penalties. According to the law, child abuse means to intentionally inflict physical or mental injury on a child.
That third-degree felony — a five-year possible penalty — can be bumped to a first-degree felony if the person is convicted of aggravated child abuse. This means physically battering a child. To neglect a child and cause him or her to be injured can result in a third- or second-degree felony as well.
That can mean prison time up to 15 years if a person is convicted. To be charged with a second-degree felony for neglecting a child, the child must have great bodily harm, disfigurement or disability. The injuries must be severe.
In this case, the injuries led to death. According to First Coast News, the 5-month-old boy was found dead inside the couple’s 103rd Street apartment. The 23-year-old father told police that the boy was lying on the living room floor when he last saw him. A few minutes later, the 22-year-old mother told him the boy wasn’t breathing, according to a police report.
A medical examiner found that the boy died form blunt force trauma to his head and the boy had bruises on his face, chest, right elbow, right ear and head, and had atrophied muscles and a lack of body fat, the news station reports.
The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, as the boy had little food in his stomach or bowels and he had fractured ribs that were healing.
The child’s parents said the boy had been seriously injured months earlier, but that the only medical treatment they offered was ointment for bed bug bites. The parents said the baby wasn’t under medical care and they fed him solid baby food, cereal and formula, and force-fed him milk because he wouldn’t take it voluntarily.
Both admitted to smoking marijuana the night the baby died. They both currently face charges of willful child neglect causing great bodily harm.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the charges upgraded to murder, especially given their admissions about smoking marijuana, causing injuries and offering little medical attention to the ailing child. The medical examiner’s determination that the boy had been bruised and battered also may lead to additional charges.
What police may be doing now is investigating to see if they can determine who was responsible for causing the head injuries that led to his death. If they can prove who delivered the fatal blow, they may be able to file murder charges. If the parents turn against each other, the police may have a way in.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for more than a decade and is here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one requires a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
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