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Child Abuse: F.S. 827.03(2)(c)
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Child Abuse - § 827.03(2)(c) governs the charge of Child Abuse, a third-degree felony in Florida. In order to prove the crime of child abuse the prosecution must prove that the defendant either:
- intentionally inflicted physical or mental injury upon the victim;
- the defendant committed an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to the victim; or
- actively encouraged another person to commit an act that resulted in or could reasonably have been expected to result in physical or mental injury to the alleged victim.
There are defenses to the charge of child abuse. One of the most common defenses is a parents right under Florida law to use “corporal punishment” against their children. For example, Florida’s Standard Jury Instruction on child abuse states:
It is not a crime for a parent of a child to impose reasonable physical discipline on a child for misbehavior under the circumstances even though physical injury resulted from the discipline.
This is what is known as an “affirmative defense.” An affirmative defense requires the defendant to establish the facts to support the defense. Once that is done then, often times, the burden is then on the state to prove to the jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendants’ actions did not constitute corporal punishment.