Child Neglect: Starvation and Malnourishment

An Indiana woman on vacation in Florida starved her baby to death and was recently given life in prison as punishment, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The woman’s husband, who was not the father of the child, also received a life sentence for first-degree murder. At birth, the child weighed six pounds and one ounce. At the time of the baby’s death, she weighed just four pounds and one ounce. More commonly, parents are charged with neglect, abuse, or child endangerment. Fatal starvation is rare in the U.S., but abuse and neglect are not, meaning that law enforcement will pursue all allegations and prosecutors will come down hard with the full weight of the law behind them. If you have been charged or are under investigation for child endangerment due to malnourishment or any other type of neglect, you need to get in contact with an experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer immediately.

Child Endangerment

A defendant who “willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child” will be charged with a third-degree felony if no great bodily harm is done. If great bodily harm is done, or permanent disfigurement, the offense is upgraded to a second-degree felony under Florida statute 827.03. Malnourishment could potentially fall under either category depending on the severity of the malnourishment.

Is Child Obesity Child Considered Endangerment?

While obesity is the leading type of preventable death and is likely to make the current generation the first in centuries to live shorter lives than their parents, it is extremely rare for a parent to be charged with child endangerment for allowing their child to become obese. To be charged with child endangerment for having an obese child would require the child to be more than simply overweight or even obese, but would require the child to be morbidly obese, of which approximately six percent of children fall under the category, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

There are a few cases where parents have been arrested for such conduct. For example, a couple in Georgia was arrested for feeding their five-year-old so much that she grew to be 158 pounds, as reported by ABC News. Another story involves a South Carolina woman and her 555-pound 14-year-old son. She was charged with neglect back in 2009, as reported by ABC News. The mother had been warned by local child protective services about her son’s morbid weight, had failed to bring him in for medical treatment appointments, and was in the process of fleeing town when arrested.

Call a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer

Make no mistake, if any party has made allegations against you for child neglect or malnourishment, you could be in serious trouble with the law. It is strongly suggested that you seek out legal assistance to protect yourself and to protect your rights as a parent. Call the West Palm Beach law offices of the Skier Law Firm today.


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