Child Neglect in Florida

In Florida, the crime of Child Neglect is defined as when a caregiver willfully, or through culpable negligence, fails to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child's physical and mental health that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child. [1]

Child neglect may be based on repeated conduct or on a single incident or omission that results in, or could reasonably be expected to result in, serious physical or mental injury, or a substantial risk of death, to a child. Likewise, child neglect can be based on a caregiver's failue to provide a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.

A child is defined as any person under the age of 18 and a caregiver is defined as a parent, adult household member, or other person responsible for the child's welfare.

Penalties for Child Neglect

In Florida, the crime of Child Neglect 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 Neglect is assigned a Level 6 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code and a judge may sentence a person convicted of Child Neglect to probation, but may also sentence the person up to the statutory maximum of five years in prison.

Defenses to Child Neglect

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 Neglect is:

Simple Neglect

The degree of negligence required to sustain a conviction for Child Neglect is as high as that required for the imposition of punitive damages in a civil action; thus simple negligence will not support a Child Neglect conviction. [2]

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Child Neglect 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)(d)
  2. State v. Greene, 348 So. 2d 3 (Fla. 1977)