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Child Abandonment in Florida

On Behalf of | Aug 26, 2022 | Criminal Charges, Criminal Defense, Criminal Defense Lawyer, Legal Tips |

Unfortunately, child abandonment in Florida is a common allegation that is heavily contested in family law cases involving custody disputes. Abandoned children (also called “foundlings”) who do not get their needs met often grow up with low self-esteem, emotional dependency, helplessness, and other issues.

Abandoned or abandonment means a situation in which the parent or legal guardian, the caregiver while being able, deserts a child without any regard for the child’s physical health, safety, or welfare with the intention of wholly abandoning the child and has failed to establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with the child, or both.

Child Abuse, Neglect, and Abandonment Under Florida Law

It is important to first understand how Florida differentiates these three criminal charges.

  • Child Abuse:  Occurs when a person intentionally inflicts mental or physical injury upon a child; performs an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to mentally or physically injure a child; or actively encourages another person to commit an act that results in (or could reasonably result in) mental or physical injury to a child.


  • Child Neglect: Occurs when a caregiver fails to provide a child with the supervision, services, and care necessary to maintain the child’s mental and physical health, or when a caregiver fails to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from exploitation, abuse, or neglect by another person.


  • Abandonment: The official charge for abandoning a child in Florida is “unlawful desertion of a child,” which occurs when a caregiver deserts a child under circumstances in which he or she knew (or should have known) that the desertion exposes the child to an unreasonable risk of harm.

In Florida, It’s a felony of the second degree to willfully, or by culpable negligence, neglect a child when it causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. It’s a felony of the third degree to willfully, or by culpable negligence, neglect a child without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.

Child neglect and child abandonment are serious crimes that can have lasting effects on their victims and may result in tough penalties for those convicted of committing them. 

If you or someone close to you has been charged with child neglect or child abandonment, you may want to consult with a Florida criminal defense attorney in your area. Attorney Russell Spatz has over four decades of experience.

To meet with Attorney Russell Spatz to discuss your criminal matter, please call the Spatz Law Firm, PL, at 305-442-0200.


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