Articles Posted in Child Abuse / Child Neglect

Jacksonville Criminal LawyerIn Florida, anyone accused of committing a felony is permitted to take depositions of the prosecution’s witnesses. On misdemeanor charges the judge has to decide if there is a good reason to allow depositions before they will go forward. The judge can even allow depositions of people not listed as witnesses if it is proven that they have something relevant to say about the charges or the defense.

Depositions are part of the discovery process, which is the process by which the parties in criminal cases gather facts about the case from each other. The deposition itself is like a question and answer session that is being recorded by a court reporter. The defense lawyer can ask pretty much any question that could get to information that would help the defense theory or help impeach the witness and this is a pretty big umbrella.

Depositions are very useful for many reasons; to get the witness’s story on the record so they can’t change it later, to find out more information about the witness, to find holes in the prosecutions case and to let everyone know you are serious about defending the case.

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyThe Duval County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to suspend without pay Christopher Robert Bacca, an elementary school teacher who faces charges of child sex crimes.

Bacca was previously named Teacher of the Year for Windy Hill Elementary School and his fall from grace has been dramatic. He is currently in jail without bail after being arrested on July 24. Bacca is charged with three counts of sexual battery against a child under 12 and one count each of lewd and lascivious battery of a child under 16, lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under 12 and lewd and lascivious conduct of a child under 16.

In 2009, the state Department of Children and Families launched an investigation of Bacca’s relationship with a student at Long Branch Elementary. The search yielded no actionable information and there were never any charges of criminal wrongdoing with the child denying any abuse took place. DCF ended the investigation with a recommendation that Bacca be moved to a “less vulnerable student population” after deciding that some harm had been done to the child. Rather than take that advice, the school system decided to transfer Bacca to yet another elementary school, Windy Hill.

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyFlorida State University criminologist Bill Bales knew Florida’s crime rate, like that of the nation, had been dropping for years but he had no idea just how much. Once he sat down to crunch the numbers he was shocked to discover how safe the state has become. Bales said, “I was astonished by the consistency of the decline and the magnitude of the decline.”

The decline was far from statistically insignificant. His results indicate that the level of safety of citizens and tourists in the state over the past 20 years has improved by a whopping 52%. What he labels a “remarkable” figure. His analysis indicated that crimes rates in Florida fell dramatically since the peak year of 1991 across all seven categories of crimes tracked by the FBI: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft.

What’s the reason for such a steep drop? Bales and other criminologist say there’s no one answer. A variety of factors such as state demographics, deployment of law enforcement resources, unemployment rates and poverty all likely played a part. The only significant correlation the study found was with increased imprisonment rates. He found that from 1980 to 2010, as crime rates went down, Florida’s prison population ballooned nearly 170 percent. However, he emphasizes that that alone does not explain the overall trend.

Jacksonville Criminal LawyerLast weekend was just like any other weekend for most Jacksonville residents and Floridians, alike. The aftermath of Beryl had gone and the sun was finally shinning. Most residents made every effort to go outside and enjoy our normal Florida sunshine. However, this was not the case for one 3-year-old child in Orlando.

Daniel Finnell, a 3 year old child, was left alone at his home while his mother went for a night on the town. Daniel was found walking barefoot in the middle of the street just minutes from coming to a busy intersection. Luckily found uninjured, the mother was later arrested for CHILD NEGLECT.

The mother, 24 year old Nicole Finnell was arrested and booked in Orange County Jail on a $1,000 bond. The child is currently with the mother’s father. The child’s grandfather has not intentions of bailing out his daughter due to the severity of the charges.

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyCasey Anthony was charged with the murder of her 2 year old daughter, Caylee, and later acquitted of all charges. She was, however, convicted of four counts of lying to law enforcement officers during the investigation. She was given time served, but placed on probation for a year. Largely, since the acquittal she has fallen from the headlines and lived a life of seclusion. But, the silence and seclusion has been broken, last night she conducted a phone interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan.

During the interview, Casey stated she was innocent and was “rightly found not guilty.” Furthermore, she stated, “Obviously I didn’t kill by daughter.” These remarks come even though it was an entire month before she reported her child missing. In addition, her and the defense team did a great job instilling reasonable doubt in the jury with the multitude of alternative scenarios as to the cause of Caylee’s Death. This strategy ultimately led to the acquittal of the Murder charges.

During the interview Casey talks about the misguided media persona and that she is not a “party girl” and she is “ashamed in many ways of the person that I [Casey] was.” Her Attorney says she has changed and now leads a life of cooking, cleaning, reading books, exercising, and watching movies; although still in seclusion and afraid to go outside.

GavelRecently a Duval County Teacher was arrested on charges of Child Abuse. The alleged incident took place on April 2, 2012. According to the report, Kristopher Hunter, the teacher, kicked the student in the back and also slammed the boy against the wall. The boy had to seek medical treatment for the injuries he sustained during the incident. The student’s name has not been released due to his age. However, it was revealed that the incident occurred between a teacher and a student of Arlington Middle School.

The act of child abuse is defined under Florida Statute § 827.03. Under that Statute child abuse is defined as “intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child; an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.” As a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer I have received numerous calls regarding child abuse. What some may not know is child abuse is considered a 3rd degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or $5,000 in fines.

Applying the law to the facts above, it could be established Mr. Hunter was guilty of Child abuse. Mr. Hunter committed an intentional act, kicking and slamming the child, which could reasonably be expected to result in injury, the child was taken to the hospital for medical treatment. Therefore, if the State can prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt” he could be convicted.

Jacksonville Beach Criminal Defense LawyerJacksonville residents and people across this nation can remember the heartbreaking Casey Anthony case and the devastating death of little Caylee Anthony. Although Casey Anthony was acquitted of the Murder charges, a new Bill was formed to prevent such actions from reoccurring. Governor Rick Scott signed “Caylee’s law” into law on Friday.

This law was designed and now implemented to increase the penalties when a parent or guardian lies to the police after a child has gone missing. According to this new law, it is now a third degree felony (punishable by up to 5 years in prison) to give false information to police when the purpose of the investigation is the recovery of a missing child. This is a great contrast to the previous penalty of a third degree misdemeanor (punishable by up to 1 year in jail) for lying to the police.

Just for comparison, if this law would have been in effect at the time of the Casey Anthony Trial, she could have faced up to 20 years in prison, not the 4 years that she was sentenced to and released from last summer.

Police-ReportAs a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer I hear about a multitude of Criminal issues and I am not surprised all that often. However, I have recently been overwhelmed with the amount of inquiries concerning the filing of False Jacksonville Police Reports. This action, when taken, can lead to serious penalties for the wrongly accused and the person filing the report. Most people I speak to do not realize the severity of their actions and were just angry, jealous, or upset when making the report. But, their actions have now led to an arrest and possible conviction of an innocent Criminal Defendant.

Florida Statute § 817.49 defines the crime of filing a false police report. It reads, “whoever willfully imparts, conveys or causes to be imparted or conveyed to any law enforcement officer false information or reports concerning the alleged commission of any crime under the laws of this state, knowing such information or report to be false, in that no such crime had actually been committed, shall upon conviction thereof be guilty.” Filing a False Jacksonville Police Report is a first-degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or fines not exceeding $1,000.

As a Duval, St. Johns, Clay, and Nassau County Criminal Defense Lawyer people who file false police reports only make my representation of Criminal Defendants more complicated. Therefore, next time you are angry, upset, or jealous of another, think twice before deciding to file a false police report. It could end negatively for all parties involved. So, if you are facing a Jacksonville, Duval, St. Johns, Clay, or Nassau County Criminal Charge and believe the accusations are false, contact a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer today. That decision could prove to be invaluable in your case.

GunA Report just released stated a 3-year-old Jacksonville boy was shot in the shoulder when a gun he was handling went off. According to the Police report the bullet struck the floor then ricocheted off, striking the young child in the shoulder. The boy was taken to a local Jacksonville Hospital for treatment.

This is a breaking news story and the details are not fully disclosed at this time. But, as a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer, I do have several points that should be taken under consideration. First, why was a child handling a weapon? Better yet, why was a child handling a LOADED weapon? Second, where were the parents during this incident? Did they approve of his handling or were they neglecting the child and left him to his own devices? All these questions and more will have to be determined for the police to proceed into their investigation.

This type of accident is both tragic and heartbreaking. The 3-year-old will have lasting scars and the horrific memory of being shot; a pain that no one should ever feel. Additionally, depending upon the circumstances, the parents could be facing criminal charges as well. This case is still in the initial stages and only as the facts present themselves, will we be able to predict how this investigation will end.

In Jacksonville, the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or a controlled substance is usually a misdemeanor. It can be a felony under certain circumstances. A Jacksonville DUI is a felony if it involves death or serious bodily injury. Under these circumstances, a Jacksonville DUI criminal defendant will be facing a minimum prison sentence under the Florida Guidelines. A person arrested for DUI in Jacksonville can be charged with Felony Driving Under the Influence if he or she has 3 or more convictions for DUI.

As a Jacksonville DUI Lawyer, I have represented clients arrested for misdemeanor DUI and felony DUI and have tried several Jacksonville DUI cases. However, I have never seen a felony DUI case like this one. Billie Joe Madden avoided a DUI arrest by having someone else drive his vehicle. Still, he was arrested on felony charges. Instead of being arrested for DUI, he “was arrested and charged with two counts of child desertion, parent allowing a minor to drive, open container and two counts of no child restraint and no seat belt” ( Police officers “said Madden told them he was intoxicated, and fell asleep while his son drove” and his 4-year-old daughter sat in the back seat.

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