A 20-year-old mother and 29-year-old father were arrested on November 14, 2017 in Lakeland after their baby tested positive for methamphetamine. The parents took the child to Lakeland Regional Hospital for treatment of an infected area on the leg which had, by that time, turned black. The mother claimed that the child had received mosquito bites several days prior, and that one of those had become infected.
Upon performing toxicology screening, the treating physician found that the child had methamphetamine in his system. Authorities were contacted, and the couple were arrested and charged with child neglect.
An individual charged with child neglect in the state of Florida may face stiff penalties, depending on the specific circumstances of the situation. Those penalties are listed in Florida Statute 827.03(2)(d). The parents of the child in the situation from which this story arises were found to be living in a filthy, unsanitary hotel room. Both had a previous arrest history for drug abuse.
In such a circumstance, a judge can find that the actions of the parents contributed to permanent harm to the child, and therefore increase punishment. This sentence can include up to five years in prison, five years in probation, and a fine of up to $5,000. It is considered a level six severity offense in the Florida criminal justice system.
Child neglect charges for drugs found in a child’s system are not charges for which an individual should attempt self-representation. If facing such difficulties, meeting with an experienced criminal attorney upon notification of these charges can help with answering questions and preparing the strongest possible defense.
Source: WFLA, “Parents arrested after Lakeland baby tested positive for methamphetamine,” WFLA Web Staff, Nov. 16, 2017