Aggravated Manslaughter Charges For Polk County, FL Mom In Infant’s Death
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office recently issued a press release in the case of a Florida mother charged in the death of her infant daughter. According to a report in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the 19-year-old woman was arrested for Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child on October 19, 2017, approximately eight months after the baby was discovered dead in a Winter Haven home. The affidavit accompanying the arrest warrant stated that the infant had been left unattended for almost five hours while her mother was away from the home. The baby was found tangled in a blanket and unresponsive, and the cause of death was listed as suffocation in the autopsy. Aggravated manslaughter offenses are among the most serious crimes under Florida law, with extremely harsh penalties for a conviction.
Definition of Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child
To prove this offense, a prosecutor must establish:
- That a person caused the death of a minor under the age of 18;
- The death was a result of the individual’s negligence;
- The individual acted in a caregiver capacity for the child; and,
- The negligence rose to the level of Neglect of a Child.
One critical component of the crime is that a prosecuting attorney must prove that the defendant is the caregiver. Only a parent, adult household member, or person charged with the child’s welfare can be convicted of Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child.
In addition, note that there is a legal definition of Neglect of a Child under Florida law. Where a caregiver fails to provide the minor with the attention, supervision, and services that a prudent person would consider essential for the child’s well-being, the facts may support a conviction.
Serious Penalties for a Conviction
If convicted of Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child, the offense is a First Degree Felony. As such, the crime is subject to mandatory minimum sentencing under Florida law. A judge must issue a sentence of at least 13 years in prison, but can order a higher sentence. The maximum term of incarceration for the crime is life in prison. In addition, a judge may require the defendant to pay a $10,000 fine and serve a life on probation.
Mandatory minimum sentences may be reduced where there are grounds for downward departure. A court would first review the facts to determine the existence of mitigating circumstances that would allow a lesser punishment. Then, the judge must decide whether doing so would be appropriate.
An Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer for Tough Cases
Florida prosecutors aggressively pursue those accused of aggravated manslaughter, but it’s still necessary for them to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. With a skilled criminal attorney on your side, you can attack weaknesses in the state’s case and present defenses to the charges. If you’re facing allegations involving aggravated manslaughter or other offenses that include mandatory minimum sentencing, please contact the Fort Lauderdale office of attorney Kevin J. Kulik. Our attorneys have more than 30 years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and we’re happy to tell you more about your options.