Mom Faces Child Neglect Charges For Letting Son Play Alone In The Park

A Florida mom has been charged with child neglect after letting her 7-year-old son play at a nearby park alone. Based on the circumstances, the case has sparked debate about police overreach. This case goes to show that just about anyone can face criminal charges for almost any reason, which is why at our Orlando criminal defense firm, we believe everyone deserves a second chance.

Case draws widespread accusations of police overreach

A Florida mom who allowed her 7-year-old son to play alone in a park less than half a mile away from her home faces felony child neglect charges, according to WIBW News. Police charged the mother with neglect despite the fact that she had given her son a cell phone to use in case of an emergency and the fact that he was familiar with the park because it was on his usual route to school. The case has led to accusations of police overreach and worries that broadly-interpreted laws are making criminals out of otherwise good parents.

An Innocent Mistake Leads to Felony Charges

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the park where the incident occurred is fewer than 15 minutes away from the mother’s home. The mother had even placed a cell phone in a case that hung from the boy’s neck (so that he wouldn’t lose it) so that would be able to keep in touch with his mother should anything go wrong. On the boy’s way to the park, a pool attendant asked where his mother was. Frightened, the boy ran on to the park.

Seeing the boy flee prompted the pool attendant to call police, who found the boy and asked him a number of questions. The police officer returned the boy to his home and charged the mother with child neglect by claiming the park was unsafe because numerous sex offenders lived in the area. They took the mother into custody before posting a nearly $4,000 bond. Although she has been told the charges will likely be dropped, she could face the penalties of a third-degree felony if she is convicted. A highly knowledgeable team of Orlando criminal defense lawyers is an invaluable asset to any case involving felony charges.

Do Police Go Too Far When Pursuing Parents?

The arrest has garnered plenty of media attention across the nation. Civil rights groups say the case is a clear example of police overreach. By giving her son a cell phone to use in case of an emergency and being in communication with him before the police arrived, the mother’s actions may help show that she did not neglect her child.

Additionally, civil rights advocates claim that if the police were truly concerned about the child’s well-being, they could have simply returned the child and issued a warning about the safety of the park without having to put the son through the trauma of seeing his mother arrested. The mother says the son is now afraid to leave the house because he fears she will be arrested again.

Others point out that just a generation ago, such behavior would not draw police attention. This case is an example of how loosely-defined laws enable police to create crime out of otherwise reasonable behavior. In Florida, parents face the issue that the law does not specify how old a child has to be before he or she can be left to take care of him- or herself. This leaves child neglect laws relatively open to the interpretation of individual police officers, which is why working with

Fighting Felony Child Neglect Charges in Orlando

No parent with good intentions should ever face the anxiety that accompanies being taken into police custody and leaving his or her child behind. Child neglect is automatically a third-degree felony offense for which a person can face:

  • 5 years in a State prison
  • 5 years of probation
  • $5,000 fine if he or she is convicted of the charge.

Matters worsen if the neglect results in great bodily harm; a person convicted of this will face 15 years in prison and/ or 15 years of probation and/ or a $10,000 fine. These are highly subjective cases that require the dedicated attention of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A qualified attorney can help get charges thrown out or help to make sure that any conviction does not lead to an unduly harsh punishment. Call The Umansky Law Firm at 407-228-3838 or email us online to discuss your case for free.

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