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I don’t care what you’re accused of doing. You are a human being and you deserve to have someone in your corner who will fight for you. I will not judge you; I’ll defend you. - Tim Flaherty

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Felony Child Abuse Dismissed in Fort Walton Beach

JA was charged with Child Abuse in Fort Walton Beach, a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Because he was in the military, he was facing the end of his career if he was convicted.

The charges stemmed from the use of corporal punishment (spanking) to discipline his son. Someone saw a bruise on the child at school and the police were called. DCF got involved and before JA could even process what was happening, he was thrown in jail.

After meeting with JA, it was clear that he was a good father who loved his kids, and a good soldier. He had no prior arrests on his record. His command had told him what would happen if he was convicted so I knew it was vital to secure a dismissal of all charges if possible.

Before meeting with the Prosecutor to discuss the case, I provided a file of mitigation. Fortunately, the Prosecutor was someone I had worked with before and I knew she would be fair and honest.

I was able to get JA into a diversion program that is called PTI in Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa County. This program ensures that the charges against someone will be dropped if the conditions are successfully completed.

JA got all of his requirements done and his case was dismissed. He was able to stay in the military.

When someone is facing felony charges, the stakes are high. With military members, it’s even more important to make sure there are no mistakes. Clients with a lot to lose hire me because they know they only have one chance to get it right. One chance to secure their freedom and their future.

If you have been charged with Child Abuse in Fort Walton Beach, Flaherty Defense Firm can help. Call me today at (850) 243-6097.

What Is The Penalty For Child Abuse In Okaloosa County?

There are two levels of Child Abuse charges: Child Abuse and Aggravated Child Abuse. Both are felonies and both are punishable by years in prison.

For all child abuse cases in Okaloosa County, you will be prosecuted by a specialized prosecution team from the Children’s Advocacy Center in Niceville. These prosecutors, police officers, and child protection team members all work together with one common goal: sending anyone who hurts a child to prison for a very long time.

While it is hard to argue with such a noble goal, that of protecting kids, the problem comes up when otherwise innocent people get prosecuted for something they didn’t know was illegal. Most commonly, corporal punishment, or spanking. There is a lot of grey area about where the line is between lawful corporal punishment and actual abuse. All too often, the prosecutors in Okaloosa County come down on the side of calling corporal punishment abuse.

Once that happens, you are in danger of losing your kids pursuant to a Dependency proceeding along with facing a lengthy prison sentence in criminal court.

What is considered Child Abuse under Florida law?

Child Abuse cases in Okaloosa County and throughout Florida are prosecuted under Florida Statute 827.03(1)(b) which defines Child Abuse as:

“Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child, or an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child, or 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.”

How is Aggravated Child Abuse Different?

Florida Statute 827.03(1)(a) states that Aggravated Child Abuse occurs when a person:

“Commits aggravated battery on a child, willfully tortures, maliciously punishes, or unlawfully cages a child, or knowingly or willfully abuses a child and in so doing cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disability to a child.”

What penalty am I facing for Child Abuse or Aggravated Child Abuse in Okaloosa County?

Child Abuse is a third degree felony with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $5000.00 fine. It is a level 6 offense under the Sentencing Guidelines so it scores 36 points. Even though that is less than the 44 point cutoff for mandatory prison time, the Okaloosa County prosecutors routinely seek jail or prison time in child abuse cases.

Aggravated Child Abuse is a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Under the Sentencing Guidelines, it is a level 9 offense that scores at least 92 points depending on the severity of the child’s injuries. A level 9 offense requires a mandatory prison sentence of at least 48 months if you are convicted as charged.

If you or a loved one has been charged with Child Abuse in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097. I will be glad to meet with you and talk about your situation confidentially.

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