Father of the year voting in Tulsa, Oklahoma just got a little more interesting with the entry of William Todd Lewallen. Lewallen is charged with child abuse by neglect for locking his 18 month old little girl in a dog cage while he elected to nap with the help of narcotic pain killers and muscle relaxers. Lewallen is also said to have locked his 4 year old out of his home in temperatures in the low 40s.
Were Lewallen’s case in Florida he would be facing similar charges and potentially more. No doubt Lewallen would be charged with a count of Aggravated Child Abuse per Florida Statute 827.03(1)(a) and 827.03(2)(a). Florida accounts for this exact scenario, making the act of willfully and unlawfully caging a child a first degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, in addition to many unpleasant evenings with new found Department of Corrections friends.
Along with Aggravated Child Abuse charges, Will the thrill would face Child Abuse by Neglect charges for negligently failing to provide his 4 year old with shelter and supervision, a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the State could prove Lewallen purposefully locked the 4 year old out of his house in low temperatures or with the expectation of low temperatures, the State could make a third degree felony count of Child Abuse by showing the act of locking the door as an “intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.”
As with any good felony, so comes a lesser included misdemeanor to ensure that the Prosecutor cannot go down like the mighty Casey at the Bat. In this factual scenario, a Florida Prosecutor would charge the lesser included crime of Contributing to the Dependency of a Minor, a first degree misdemeanor punishable by 11 months, 29 days in county jail in addition to a $1,000 fine. Should the State fail to convict Slick Willy of Aggravated Child Abuse or Child Abuse by Neglect, they would likely show Lewallen, by locking the 4 year old outside in low temperatures, caused his child be one in need of services thereby satisfying the elements of Contributing to the Dependency of a Minor.
All things considered, were this crime committed (it has on previous occasions) in Florida, the State Attorney’s Office would charge Lewallen with the most serious crime they could earn a conviction upon. If we take the news story at face value, it appears there would be absolutely no problem in winning the Aggravated Child Abuse count as officers witnessed the child inside the cage. Due to Florida’s Aggravated Child abuse statute addressing squarely the conduct of Lewallen, in my humble opinion this would be one of those infamous 5 minute guilty verdicts prosecutors love to tell you all about. With respect to the general Child Abuse charge, Prosecutors would likely enjoy an easier task in charging Child Abuse by Neglect as Lewallen’s actions meet the elements of this charge well. Temperatures were low and the child was locked outside without shelter and supervision. Signed, sealed, delivered.
Not all allegations of Child Abuse and Aggravated Child Abuse are this cut and dry. Many allegations of Child Abuse our Tampa criminal attorneys have handled involve some form of sub plot. Hell hath no fury like a scorned ex lover and that often manifests itself in an allegation of child abuse. Unfortunately, many in our society view the criminal justice system as a way to get what they want in a collateral civil case. Likewise, children who want to reside with one parent over another have been known to cry wolf on a Child Abuse charge.
Regardless of the facts of your case, if you’ve been accused of child abuse it is imperative that you speak with a Tampa criminal lawyer immediately.
The Mayberry Law Firm is a State and Federal criminal defense firm located in Tampa and Clearwater, Florida. We are available from 9AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday to those in need. Give us a call at 813-444-7435 or 727-771-3847.