Failure to Report Child Abuse or Neglect in Florida
Every person within the state of Florida is legally required to report suspected or known cases of child neglect or abuse to authorities immediately.
Florida Statute §39.205, states that a person may be charged with Failure to Report Child Abuse or Neglect if they willfully and knowingly fail to report suspected or known cases of child neglect, abandonment, or abuse, despite being legally obligated to do so, to the relevant authorities via the Florida Abuse Hotline
Definition Mandatory Reporter
People often make the mistake of thinking that only teachers, health professionals, and welfare workers are ‘mandatory reporters' when it comes to child neglect or abuse.
However, as per Florida Statute §39.201(1), mandatory reporters refer to people who are aware of or suspect that a minor child is being neglected, abandoned, or abused, by a person responsible for handling the minor's welfare.
Although all people are legally required to inform and report suspected or known child abuse cases to the authorities at Florida Abuse Hotline, laypeople aren't required to give their names or contact information while reporting the case. However, teachers, child welfare workers, and health professionals do need to provide contact information upon reporting the case.
This offense is a Felony of the Third Degree within the state of Florida. The court may impose any of these following penalties in any combination:
Fine not exceeding $5000
Probation period not exceeding 5 years
Imprisonment sentence not exceeding 5 years
Lack of Reasonable Suspicion
Although every person is required to report all known or suspected cases of child neglect or abuse, especially when the child has specifically made a statement about the neglect or abuse, people are not required to inform and reported suspected cases of child neglect or abuse, if they are merely based on speculation, rumor, or gossip.
An individual only must report a suspected case of child neglect or abuse if there are reasonable grounds for the suspicion to exist about possible neglect or abuse being meted out to the child.
Under this definition, laypeople are not to be convicted if the parent had given them an innocent explanation about the child's injury, due to which they had decided not to report the case. However, teachers, child welfare workers, and doctors cannot avail of this defense since they do possess the specialized training needed for determining whether a child was being neglected or abused, even in the face of such false explanations.
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If you've been charged or arrested in the Daytona Beach area, contact Larry Avallone, who is an expert Criminal Defense Lawyer in Volusia County. My initial consultation is free. I am ready to provide legal advice regarding the next steps in your case.