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Child Negligence & Weapons Laws In Florida


A terrible occurrence was reported in Orlando, Florida after a toddler got a hold of a loaded handgun and fatally shot his mother while she was engaged in a Zoom video call. When officers arrived, they found the mother deceased and two children present. The handgun was not secured and reportedly belonged to the child’s father. It is unclear whether the children have been placed in foster care pending an investigation, but this story reaffirms the importance of gun and weapon safety in the home, especially when children are involved. Can a parent face negligence charges or lose custody of their children when violence is involved?

 Consequences to Firearm Owners for Illegal Access to Children

In Florida, both child negligence and child endangerment are felony crimes. Leaving a loaded weapon out or accessible to children is also a crime. Even if the weapon is put away, if the owner knows or reasonably should know that the child could potentially access the weapon, they can be charged. While it is not illegal to own guns concurrently with children living in the residence, parents or relatives must secure weapons at all times and keep ammunition and weapons in two separate, locked devices, closets, or safes.

When a minor accesses a loaded firearm, the owner can be charged with a second degree misdemeanor. When the minor accesses the loaded gun, discharges it, and shoots and injures (or fatally injures) themselves or another, the charges to the gun owner are elevated to a felony. The Florida Department of Children and Families does investigate any time a child is involved in an incident or crime concerning weapons, violence or homicide. Their website offers resources to parents and caregivers about child safety. Investigations are launched to protect the welfare and safety of the child.

Custody Implications for Pending Criminal Charges

If a parent is charged with child abuse, child negligence or another felony or misdemeanor requiring their incarceration, and the child is without a caregiver due to the parent’s incarceration, the Department of Children and Families steps in to take temporary custody of the child. The minor child may be placed in foster care temporarily. If the defendant parent is subsequently sentenced to prison or jail for a child abuse, neglect or abandonment charge, they may lose their custody rights. This is dependent on whether or not a guardian or parent is present, if the co-parent is divorced and seeks primary custody on the basis of the other co-parent’s incarceration, and the length and severity of the sentence. If you are facing criminal charges and you have sole custody of your children it is crucial you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your life and the lives of your children depend on it.

Call Attorney William Wallshein Today

Child negligence and abuse charges are extremely serious. You could face criminal charges, loss of custody and additional repercussions if found guilty. You may also be facing an investigation from child services. West Palm Beach criminal attorney William Wallshein understands what is at risk and works tirelessly to defend his clients. You have nothing to lose. Call today to schedule a free consultation.



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