Florida Makes Changes to Child Abuse Laws
Written by Moses & Rooth on August 11, 2015
Child abuse is an extremely sensitive, personal area of the law, in that it involves both children and family. Often, a third party will allege child abuse without proper evidence to support the allegation. This can lead to false accusations and misinterpretations that can take a long time for the legal system to correct.
Additionally, there may be false motives behind alleging child abuse, such as an attempt to gain sole custody of a child. Regardless, Florida law recognizes the importance of children’s rights in these situations, whether the allegations are based on fact or mere speculation.
Children’s Rights in Florida
Florida law prohibits recording conversations unless all involved parties are put on notice they are being recorded. This can make it difficult for victims to “prove” abuse, whether it be child abuse or expanded further to domestic violence or sexually motivated crimes. The difficulty of using this type of evidence stems from what type of evidence is allowed in court. There are rigorous rules of evidence that must be followed, and tape recordings of this nature can be difficult to prove who was saying the words, as well as whether the words were taken out of context or not.
The new law (HB 7001) will expand rights for those under 18 who believe they will be able to gather evidence of assault or abuse as a result of a tape recording. This extends to a person under 18 who “has reasonable grounds to believe that the recording will capture a statement by another party to the communication that the other party intends to commit, is committing, or has committed an unlawful sexual act or unlawful act of physical force or violence against the person.” Essentially, the law allows such recordings to be used in proving past, current, or future violent or sexual acts.
It is unclear how the law will affect the admissibility of this type of evidence in court, though that is presumably one of the intents of the legislation. The law specifies only that recording is lawful, not that it will always be admissible in court. Attorneys will still need to comply with all rules of evidence in seeking to have this communication entered into evidence at trial. This may require testimony from involved persons regarding voice recognition or testimony about how the recording was executed. Prosecutors will still have the same hoops to jump through regarding evidence as they did before, meaning they have to follow the rules and prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the accused to be convicted.
Central Florida Child Abuse Attorneys
If you or anyone you know has been charged with the serious crime of child abuse in Orlando or central Florida, you need lawyers on your side to help you navigate the criminal justice system.
As former prosecutors, our experienced child abuse defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law have seen these cases from both sides and know how the prosecution is likely to approach the case. This experience, combined with our extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system and child abuse cases will ensure that you have the best chance at putting this misunderstanding behind you and moving on with your life. We are always available for you to contact us at (407) 377-0150 and tell us about your case.