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Woman Charged With Child Abuse For Using Drugs In Front Of Child

A Florida woman is facing a third-degree felony count of child abuse after she allegedly used an inhalant known as a “whippet” in front of her 1-year old son. The incident allegedly occurred inside of her car with her son in the backseat.

The woman was found asleep in her car. Her son was asleep in his car seat.

A friend of the accused woman told police that the woman was doing the drugs in front of her child. A whippet is a cartridge of nitrous oxide gas that can be inhaled from a whipped cream canister.

Police found numerous whipped cream canisters inside of her car.

Florida’s child abuse statute makes it a crime to:

1. Intentionally inflict physical or mental injury upon a child;

2. Commit an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child; or

3.  Actively encouraging any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.

Under Florida law, using drugs in close proximity to a child, especially when the drug use is occurring inside of a car, could satisfy the requirement that such act could reasonably be expected to result in physical harm to the child. At 1, the child is likely too young to suffer any mental harm from witnessing the mother using drugs.

In addition to a maximum of five years in prison, the State Attorney’s Office routinely contacts the Department of Children and Families (DCF) when any allegation of child abuse is made. If DCF determines that the allegedly abused child is in danger, they could seek to have the child removed from the home.

Eric Matheny is a Miami child abuse lawyer and Broward child abuse lawyer.