The Law in Plain English -
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Top Child Abuse Defense Attorney Jason Cromey, Esq. on:
Aggravated Child Abuse: F.S. 827.03(2)(3)
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Aggravated Child Abuse - As you probably guessed from its title, Aggravated Child Abuse is a more serious version of the crime of Child Abuse. Child Abuse typically only involves physical or mental injury to a child whereas Aggravated Child Abuse is charged when a defendant is accused of either:
- committing aggravated battery on a child (aggravated battery is a battery that causes serious physical injury, permanent disfigurement, or permanent disability; or, a battery committed through the use of a deadly weapon);
- willfully torturing the victim;
- maliciously punishing the victim;
- willfully and unlawfully cage the victim; or
- knowingly or willfully commit the crime of child abuse upon the victim and in doing so cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the victim.
Obviously, aggravated child abuse is a serious allegation and typically constitutes at a minimum a second-degree felony in Florida, punishable up to fifteen (15) years in the state prison. It is important to have an experienced attorney who is well-versed in medical terminology, taking the deposition of child witnesses, and working with defense experts to challenge the government’s accusations.
For example, in order to prove that a victim suffered “mental harm,” the government must present expert testimony to establish that the defendant “caused injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by a discernable and substantial impairment in the ability of the child to function within the normal range of performance and behavior as supported by expert testimony.” Notice the last sentence – “by expert testimony.”
This means that in order for the state to move forward on a child abuse charge alleging “mental injury” the state must use mental health experts no matter what. That being the case, a criminal defense lawyer defending these charges must be familiar with the clinical terms, how to cross-examine a mental health expert, and should have some connections to local doctors who could possibly be retained to assist in your defense.