Child Abuse in Florida

In Florida, the crime of Child Neglect Abuse is defined as an intentional act that results in, or could reasonably be expected to result in, physical or mental injury to a child. [1]

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

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

Penalties for Child Abuse

In Florida, the crime of Child Abuse is a Third Degree Felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Child Abuse is assigned a Level 4 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code and a judge may sentence a person convicted of Child Abuse to probation, but may also sentence the person up to the statutory maximum of five years in prison.

Defenses to 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 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. However, if injuries more serious than minor bruising occur as a result of the discipline, the parental privilege does not apply. [3]

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Child Abuse in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, 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. Florida Statute 827.03(2)(c)
  2. Pena v. State, 17 So. 3d 788 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009)
  3. State v. Lanier, 979 So. 2d 365 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008)