Criminal prosecutors are responsible for filing and supporting charges of child endangerment, criminal drug violations, and possibly arson where a fire or explosion has occurred at a meth lab. Criminal charges stemming from the operation of a meth lab may be filed in either State or Federal court, depending upon the judgment of prosecutors, in consultation with investigators. Child endangerment charges are usually filed in State court.
Coordination and communication between prosecutors and investigators, child protective services personnel, and all witnesses are critical to a successful prosecution. The short- and long-term interests of the child must be an important consideration in the criminal drug prosecution. By reviewing all the evidence gathered, charging the drug violations as appropriate, and filing child endangerment charges against the appropriate parties, the prosecutor strengthens the DEC team's efforts to achieve favorable child protection outcomes.
Communication between CPS workers, probation officers, health care personnel, police officers, and attorneys should continue throughout the period of prosecution. Communication between the criminal and dependency and/or family law courts is crucial to avoid creating conflicts or jeopardizing either case outcome. At the sentencing phase, the court establishes sanctions and activities considered necessary for rehabilitation. Even if charges of child endangerment are dismissed, the prosecutor can ask that the court consider conditions relating to the child endangerment charge in sentencing.
In cases in which one parent or caregiver is not charged with endangerment but lesser charges are levied, the prosecutor can play an important role in safeguarding the child's welfare by influencing the terms of probation. These terms often include drug treatment, parenting classes, and other rehabilitative measures such as parent-child counseling to help the parent change his or her lifestyle and focus on the child’s welfare. Compliance with all terms of family reunification care plans or other dependency/family court orders also should be included in probation terms.
Children's Legal Services
The Children’s Legal Services Division of the Office of the Attorney General was established by the legislature as a pilot project in 1995. This office is charged with the responsibility of litigating child abuse, abandonment and neglect cases for the Department of Children and Family Services in Broward, Hillsborough and Manatee County. In their role as legal counsel to the Department of Children and Family Services, this section renders legal advice to the Department of Children and Families in Broward, Hillsborough and Manatee County, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the private child welfare agencies such as Hillsborough KIDS, Inc., ChildNet, Children’s Home Society, and Kids In Distress. The attorneys in the Children’s Legal Services division are also responsible for litigating termination of parental rights petitions to establish permanency for children who have been long-time sufferers of abuse, abandonment or neglect. Currently, this section collectively handles approximately 5100 cases. For more information on Children’s Legal Services, please contact the Attorney General’s field offices in Fort Lauderdale (954) 713-3073, Bradenton (941) 741-3260, or Tampa (813) 272-0407.
Click the following link for a list of State Attorneys in your Area:
List of State Attorneys