A 33-year-old Palm Coast woman now faces charges of animal cruelty and child abuse after authorities took 31 pets from her house recently, The Florida Times-Union reports. Charges of child abuse in Jacksonville are serious because they can result in a felony conviction. But also because of the intense media attention these cases receive, which can influence a prosecutor's decision, whether they would admit it or not. And once involved with the child welfare system, it can be all but impossible to rid yourself of these state bureaucrats and their involvement in your affairs. These charges can be difficult for the state to prove, as well. Let's face it — children are clumsy and they often act with reckless abandon. They can hurt themselves, and bruising can be tied to a parent or guardian without much proof. And if children make up a story to blame injuries on a parent they're upset with at the time, things can spiral out of control. A parent never wants to purposely injure their child and they certainly don't want to drag the child through court, but in order to defend their rights, it may be necessary. Hiring an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney to handle this duty is a critical first step in sorting fact from fiction. In the Palm Coast case, the 33-year-old mother now faces three counts of child abuse and 30 counts of animal cruelty. According to the newspaper, sheriff's deputies report they noticed a foul smell coming from the home when they arrived at the house, though it's unclear from the article why they were there in the first place. Channel 13 News offers some additional details — that deputies got a tip and arrived at the home to find children ages 5, 8 and 14 surrounded by garbage and animal feces. Inside, deputies also found six dogs, 22 cats, two ferrets and a rabbit in the house. According to Florida Statute 827.03, child abuse has a very specific definition that can be difficult to prove by prosecutors. In order to commit child abuse: -Injuries — physical or mental — must be "intentionally" inflicted. -The act must be intentional. -A person can encourage another to commit an act that will reasonably be expected to result in injury to the child. Obviously in this case, there must be testimony about the conditions of the house and the question will be what were the living conditions really like? One must consider that if law enforcement got a tip about a bad situation for children, they are going into the house thinking things are going to be bad. They may not have had an open mind about the situation, but were seeking an arrest. It's also possible that mental illness can be a defense in a situation in similar situations. If a house's living conditions are so bad that feces, clutter and animals are covering the place, the defendant may have a mental ailment that can explain the situation and lead to treatment over incarceration.
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