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Florida Child Abuse Laws

Florida child abuse laws, like the abuse laws of other states, fall within the Penal Code. The crime is broadly defined to include any type of cruelty inflicted on a child, such as mental abuse, physical abuse, sexual assault or exploitation, and neglect. Charges for physical child abuse often include assault and battery. Child abuse laws also include provisions requiring certain adults with access to children (such as teachers and doctors) to report signs of abuse.

Reporting Child Abuse in Florida

If you or a loved one is the victim of child abuse or child neglect, you should know you're not alone. The Florida Department of Children and Families maintains a confidential, 24-hour hotline for reporting child abuse:

Florida Child Abuse Laws at a Glance

Below, you'll find a general overview of Florida child abuse laws, mandatory reporting requirements, and penalties for failure to report. See Details on State Child Abuse Laws for more general information.

Code Section

39.202, 39.205; 39.201; 39.01(2)

What Constitutes Abuse

Willful or threatened act resulting in physical, mental, or sexual injury or harm, causing or likely to cause impairment of physical, mental, or emotional health

Mandatory Reporting Required By

Physician, mental health professional, spiritual practitioner, school teacher, social worker, law enforcement officer, judge

Basis of Report of Abuse/Neglect

One who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect neglect, abuse, or abandonment

To Whom Reported

Department of Children and Family Services

Penalty for Failure to Report or False Reporting

Misdemeanor in 1st degree; if knowingly made false report: felony in 3rd degree


Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Florida criminal defense or family law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Child Abuse Basics

Child abuse is generally defined as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, neglect, or abandonment of a child by a parent or caretaker. Child abuse laws are designed to protect children from serious harm while balancing parents’ rights to raise and discipline their children as they see fit. Child abuse occurs more than most people realize in the United States: every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse involving almost 6 million children are made, and 4 or 5 children are killed by child abuse or neglect every day.

You can find child abuse resources available in your state or visit FindLaw's Where to Get Help for Child Abuse section for more information on what to do if you suspect that someone is abusing a child.

Florida Child Abuse Laws: Related Resources

The physical, psychological, and emotional effects of child abuse can be severe. Therefore, it is best to report possible child abuse cases to the authorities as soon as possible. If you would like legal assistance with an existing or possible case of child abuse, you can also contact a Florida criminal defense attorney in your area.

You can also find more introductory information about this topic by visiting FindLaw's child abuse section.

Charged With Child Abuse? Get Professional Help Today

If you have been charged with child abuse or any other crime involving domestic relations, you likely have a lot at stake. Child abuse is a very serious crime, but you always have the right to defend against criminal charges and should consider legal representation. Protect your interests; reach out to a Florida criminal defense attorney near you.

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