Splitting a Child's Lip and Choking Him is Not Necessarily Child Abuse

          In the case of State of Florida v. Figarola, Mr. Figarola was charged with child abuse because he struck his son Carlos twice for refusing to eat food which Mr. Figarola had prepared and served.  Mr. Figarola split Carlos' lip when he struck him, and he also caused Carlos to choke while trying to force him to eat.


          Florida's Third District Court of Appeal concluded that Mr. Figarola's "behavior was [not] so excessive or unreasonable and beyond the scope of parental discipline so as to constitute child abuse."  The appellate court reached this conclusion for the following three reasons:


          1.  There was no evidence that Mr. Figarola inflicted significant bruises or welts on his son in violation of Florida's civil child abuse law.


          2.  No evidence was presented that Carlos needed medical treatment as was the case in State of Florida v. McDonald.


          3.  Mr. Figarola did not intend to injure his son but instead did so accidentally, unlike what occurred in the case of Raford v. State of Florida.

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