Aggravated Child Abuse in Florida

Under Florida Statute 827.03(1)(a), the crime of Aggravated Child Abuse is defined as committing an aggravated battery on a child; or willfully torturing, maliciously punishing, or caging a child; or abusing a child in a manner that causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.

Importantly, there is no requirement that Aggravated Child Abuse be committed by a person in a parental or custodial relationship to the child, 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 a First Degree Felony in Florida and punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison, thirty (30) years of probation, and a $10,000 fine.

Aggravated Child Abuse is assigned a Level 9 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code. Absent grounds for a downward departure sentence, a judge is required to sentence a person convicted of Aggravated Child Abuse to a minimum sentence of 48 months in prison, but may also sentence the person up to the statutory maximum of 30 years in prison.

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, contact Orlando 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)