Friday, October 19, 2012


After the recent scandal where administrators failed to timely report child abuse at Penn State, Florida has taken action to make failure to report child abuse a felony. According to press reports colleges face significant fines and individuals face felony charges if found guilty under this act:
The Protection of Vulnerable Persons law requires anyone to report child abuse to the Florida Abuse Hotline. Failure to do so could result in felony charges, or if someone at a university fails to report, the school could face fines of up to $1 million.
does the van gogh painting of a mother & baby show abuse? in Florida failure to report suspected child abuse is a felony.
Van Gogh, Baby Abuse?, 1888
Though Clearwater Child Abuse Lawyers agree that the intent of the law is commendable with the goal of protecting children from harm, the law is an example of over-criminalization
How will Florida law enforcement and prosecutors determine that a person knew that an alleged abuse of a child was clearly occurring? Once the police suspect abuse rather than just arresting and prosecuting the abuser, the case will escalate into an investigation of everyone who came into contact with the child yet failed to report any abuse.
The tragedy is that the law will not be seen as overly broad until multiple wrongful arrests ruining the innocent lives of folks who happened to have contact with an abused child, but can't easily prove they never suspected any child abuse. 
For example, a vigilant bus driver notices strange bruises on a child, suspects abuse and reports it. Should the home room teacher, the sunday school teacher, the coach, the music teacher, the school principle all be charged with felonies for failing to report what they may never have noticed? 
And unlike the previous Florida law requiring reporting of suspected child abuse this law applies to anyone in contact with the child not just parents or caretakers. 
If you're being investigated by law enforcement for violating Florida law contact an experienced Clearwater Criminal Attorney for Defense consultation and help.