Couple Faces Domestic Violence Charges due to Living Conditions; Florida Defense Lawyer Explains how

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Two individuals in Okaloosa County have been charged with felony counts of child neglect and drug possession in the wake of a visit to their home. Attorney Clay Adkinson said that these charges are linked and explained that child neglect and abuse cover a range of activities.

Two deputies happened upon the home of David and Justina Rush, a couple in the Crestview area, when they were investigating a report of an individual in traffic, according to a July 29 report in the Northwest Florida Daily News. On entering the house, the officers discovered appalling conditions, including “filthy” carpeting, a kitchen full of rotten food, and insect covering the four-bedroom, two-bathroom house, according to the Daily News report.

Three children were found living the home, including one infant found in a crib with bottles of spoiled formula and covered in insects. Both of the individuals admitted to using marijuana while caring for the children, and an actual marijuana plant was found inside the residence. The couple is now facing three third degree felony counts of child neglect, along with charges of possessing drugs and paraphernalia. Adkinson explained how a dirty home with drugs inside can lead to felony charges.

“Prosecutors may use a variety of factors to determine whether to pursue child neglect charges, but open drug use is certainly one that can tip the scales, ” he said.

Child neglect and abuse are defined under the same statue according to Florida Statute 827.03, and these charges also fall under the domestic violence category. Neglecting a child to the point of possible endangerment is considered a felony offense, and the use of drugs which impair the ability of a caretaker to tend to the needs of an infant qualifies as allowing a child to potentially be harmed.

“Although no immediate physical damage was inflicted, child neglect charges still carry heavy consequences. Drug use around children is certainly ground for a child neglect case.”

Any child abuse or neglect charge is automatically a felony offense, with a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison or up to $5,000 in fines.

“When discussing domestic violence, most people think of battered wives or children, but abuse can take many other forms and include a range of situations,” he said. “Any circumstances that could lead to a child being in danger or ignoring a situation that could cause harm is considered neglect or abuse.”

Other instances that are contained in the definition as laid out in Florida Statute 827.03 include depriving a child with medical care, knowingly allowing a child to remain in conditions that are harmful, and failing to provide a safe place for a child to live.

Clay Adkinson is a Destin defense attorney who represents clients facing domestic violence charges, child abuse allegations, drug crimes, and other criminal charges in DeFuniak Springs, Florida.

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