One of the biggest viral photos to go around the internet over the past several weeks is unfortunately also one of the most heartbreaking. You may have seen it: a child sits in the backseat of a car while a couple are in the front seat, apparently passed out from a heroin overdose.
The photo came from police in East Liverpool, Ohio. Officers had been following the couple’s car after noticing that they were driving recklessly – at one point they almost hit a school bus!
When the car stopped, police were able to turn off the vehicle, bring in EMS personnel to revive the couple, and bring the child to Children’s Services. The police shared the horrifying photos in order to raise awareness about the effects of drugs.
While police believe the couple were overdosing on heroin (they were revived by Narcan, which reverses the effects of opioids), a pink powdery substance was found inside the car and is currently being tested in a lab for identification.
This story is absolutely horrifying, but the worst part may be that it is not unique.
Another Case of Child Abuse
After the photos from Ohio went viral, a Milwaukee mother shared similar videos and photos from an incident last March.
The woman, who has gone only by the name of “Theresa” in reports, heard her son screaming one morning. He thought that there were dead bodies in a car outside the family’s home. When Theresa went to the car, she saw a couple passed out from an apparent overdose, and a 2-year-old child walking around in the backseat, trying to get out of the car.
Theresa cared for the child until it was taken to child protective services, and called police to revive the couple. (The man, 41-year-old Matthew Huber, recently died from an apparent overdose earlier this month.)
The Seriousness of Child Abuse/Neglect Charges
The couple from East Liverpool, Ohio, was individually charged with endangering children (on top of other charges, including public intoxication, driving under the influence, and not wearing a seat belt).
The couple in Milwaukee were both charged and convicted of child neglect.
A conviction for child abuse or neglect may not only come with criminal penalties, but also force you to give up custody of your child. In Florida, child neglect falls under the category of child abuse, which is defined as:
“Willful or threatened act resulting in physical, mental, or sexual injury or harm, causing or likely to cause impairment of physical, mental, or emotional health.”
As a society, it is vital that we protect children from neglect. Florida even has laws that require any physician, teacher, mental health professional, and other professional, to report child abuse or neglect as soon as they see signs or symptoms of the crime.
But while these laws are vital in keeping kids safe, we cannot forget that the accused have rights, too. This is especially important when news stories like the above ones make their rounds because they tend to make law enforcement officers and others hyper-vigilant and even overzealous.
Adding to this is the fact that the Florida professionals mentioned above can actually face criminal consequences for failing to report abuse or neglect. In other words, they have immense pressure on them to catch and report instances of child abuse or neglect – even if the signs aren’t inherently clear that abuse or neglect is occurring. Unfortunately, this can – and sometimes does –lead to false accusations.
The bottom line is that if you are facing these types of charges, they can change your entire life. You owe it to yourself and your family to fight back and protect your rights by working with a skilled Florida child neglect attorney.
About the Author:
Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he’s done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.