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Failure to Report Child Abuse

Pursuant to Title V of Chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes, Section 39.205 explains the penalties for failing to report child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.

Subsection (1) of Section 39.205 prohibits a person who knowingly and willfully fails to report to the central abuse hotline known or suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, or who knowingly and willfully prevents another person from doing so, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five (5) years in Florida State Prison.

Subsection (2) of Section 39.205 prohibits a person from knowingly and willfully failing to report the child abuse when:

  • the person is 18 years of age or older;
  • the person lives in the same house or living unit as a child;
  • the person knows or suspects the child to be a victim of child abuse, neglect of a child, or aggravated child abuse; and
  • the court does not find that the person is a victim of domestic violence or that other mitigating circumstances exist.

A failure to report child support under Section 39.205(2) is a felony of the third degree.

Notably, a judge subject to discipline pursuant to s. 12, Art. V of the State Constitution may not be prosecuted criminally under Section 39.205 when the information was received in the course of official duties.


Making Public Confidential Information of Child Abuse

Under Section 39.205(6), any person who knowingly and willfully makes public or discloses any confidential information contained in the central abuse hotline or in the records of any child abuse, abandonment, or neglect case, except as provided in this chapter, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.


False Report of Child Abuse

Section 39.205(8), if a law enforcement agency finds sufficient evidence for prosecution for filing a false report, it must refer the case to the appropriate state attorney for prosecution.

Any person who knowingly and willfully makes a false report of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, or who advises another to make a false report, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five (5) years in Florida Statute Prison pursuant to Section 39.205(9).

Such cases are rarely prosecuted because the statute provides that anyone making a report who is acting in “good faith” is immune from any liability under this subsection.


Attorney for Failing to Report Child Abuse in Tampa, FL

If you were accused of failing to report child abuse, releasing confidential information to the public, or making a false report of child abuse to the authorities, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

We represent clients throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including all of Hillsborough County and the surrounding counties of Hernando County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, and Polk County.

Call 813-250-0500.


This article was last updated on Friday, April 22, 2022.

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