Parkland Deputy Who Failed to Confront Shooter Arrested, Charged With Child Neglect and Culpable Negligence
According to reporting from the Miami Herald, Scot Peterson — the Broward County deputy who was assigned as the public safety officer at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — is facing 11 criminal charges for his failure to confront the former student and gunman who killed 17 innocent people in February of 2018. Among other things, Mr. Peterson is facing charges for child neglect, culpable negligence, and perjury. He faces up to almost 100 years in prison.
The criminal charges follow the Florida Department of Law of Enforcement investigation into the horrible attack. As many observers have noted, these charges are unusual — there is not much precedent for a case like this one. The criminal defense attorney for Scot Peterson told reporters from the Miami Herald that the charges were “legally misguided” and “spurious”.
Florida Law: Child Neglect Charges
Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 827.03), criminal neglect of a child is a serious offense. It can be charged as a felony — and it is punishable by a lengthy prison sentence. In most circumstances, child neglect charges are filed against a child’s parent or guardian. However, as this case demonstrates, there are exceptions. Florida defines child neglect as a “caregiver’s failure” to provide a child with proper “care, supervision, or services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health.” Though, it is highly unusual for this charge to be filed against a law enforcement officer.
Mr. Peterson’s criminal defense attorney told reporters that the child neglect charges were wrong and must be dismissed because a police officer cannot be considered to be a “caregiver” of a child for the purposes of Florida’s criminal statutes. Should this case go to trial, this will be a major issue that needs to be decided. The court will need to determine if the state’s child neglect statute can apply to a school police officer.
Florida Law: Culpable Negligence Charges
In addition to the child neglect charges, former Parkland deputy Scot Peterson is also facing culpable negligence charges. Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 784.05), culpable negligence is reckless or careless action or inaction that puts another person at risk of serious injury or death. It is a second degree misdemeanor offense. That being said, it is still a serious crime that can lead to jail time. Notably, the definition of what constitutes culpable negligence in Florida is somewhat vague. Culpable negligence charges must always be defended on a case-by-case basis.
Get Help From Our Miami, FL Defense Lawyers Right Away
At Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC, our Miami criminal attorneys are committed to providing strong, results-oriented legal representation to defendants. If you or your loved one was charged with child neglect, culpable negligence or any other similar offense, we are here to help. For a free, no obligation initial consultation, please do not delay: call us at our Miami law office today.