West Palm Beach police are charging a woman after a 5-year-old boy in her care fell from a second-story window. Police say that when they arrived on the scene, they found the woman passed out and reeking of alcohol. The woman reported having drunk wine and taken Advil.
Though the article does not state what the woman was charged with, there are some very likely candidates. We’ll take a look at those below.
The crime of child neglect is defined under Florida Statutes Section 827.03. Child neglect is a crime of omission. In other words, the individual is being charged for something they did not do but should have. Since every parent or individual who is vested with the care of a child is expected to provide that child with supervision, neglect can be charged in the case of the woman mentioned above. Caregivers are expected to maintain the child’s physical and psychological health. This includes providing the child with food, medication, clothing, shelter, and supervision. While parents are most often charged with the crime, anyone to whom a child is entrusted may be charged as well. Child neglect can also be charged when a caregiver fails to protect a child from danger. It can be charged for a single incident or for repeated conduct.
Depending on the circumstances, child neglect can be charged with any of number of felonies, but all child neglect charges are felonies. When serious bodily harm occurs as a result of the neglect, it can be charged as a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Another question to be answered is whether or not the negligence was flagrant or culpable. Negligence (in terms of criminal law) requires an utter disregard for the safety or well-being of the child. Culpable negligence is somewhat less heavy-handed. It involves taking some action that could reasonably lead to injury or bodily harm.
There are misdemeanor and felony versions of child endangerment. If the misconduct was intentional, then child endangerment is charged as a felony. If the action was negligent or reckless, it can be charged as a misdemeanor.
What Will This Woman be Charged With?
It’s hard to say without more information. The largest factor here will be whether or not the woman constituted a “caregiver” or not. In order to be considered a caregiver, the child’s parents must have knowingly left the child in the woman’s care and she must have known that they were doing so. In other words, if the woman was getting her drink on and the parents decided to leave the child with her, that could be used as a defense, especially if she passed out before the parents left. In that case, the parents are the ones who deserve to be charged with negligence. She may still be charged with endangerment, however.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
The Skier Law Firm P.A. in West Palm Beach represents defendants against criminal charges. We can help plead your case down or argue your case before a jury. Give us a call or talk to us online for more information.