Aggravated Child Abuse in Florida

If accused of Aggravated Child Abuse in Florida, you need to know the:

Definition of Aggravated Child Abuse

Under Florida Statute 827.03(1)(a), the crime of Aggravated Child Abuse is committed when a person either:

  1. Commits an aggravated battery on a child;
  2. Willfully tortures, maliciously punishes, or willfully and unlawfully cages a child; or
  3. Knowingly or willfully abuses a child and in so doing causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child.

A child is defined as any person under the age of 18.

Importantly, there is no requirement that the Aggravated Child Abuse must be committed by a person in a parental or custodial relationship to the victim, thus what might be charged as a Felony Battery if the child was an adult, can instead be charged as Aggravated Child Abuse at the prosecutor's discretion. [1]

Penalties for Aggravated Child Abuse

The crime of Aggravated Child Abuse is classified as a First Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 9 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Aggravated Child Abuse, a judge is required to impose a minimum sentence of 48 months in prison absent grounds to impose a downward departure sentence and can also impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to thirty (30) years in prison.
  • Up to thirty (30) years of probation.
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.

Defenses to Aggravated Child Abuse

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, a specific defense to the crime of Aggravated Child Abuse is:

Parental Privilege

A parent, or one standing in loco parentis (such as a teacher), has the right to reasonably discipline a child under his or her control and authority.[2]

However, if injuries more serious than minor bruising occur as a result of the discipline, the parental privilege does not apply.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Aggravated Child Abuse in Central Florida or the greater Orlando area, please contact Criminal Defense Lawyer today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.


  1. Pena v. State, 17 So. 3d 788 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009)
  2. State v. Lanier, 979 So. 2d 365 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008)