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Woman Drives Off in Running Car with 3 Children Inside

South Florida – A 33-year-old South Florida woman was in jail on Tuesday, April 30th after hopping in a stranger's running car with three children and driving off.

A 34-year-old man had left is running vehicle parked outside of Little Haiti shop on Monday afternoon with three small children inside: his 5-year-old son Anthony, his 6-year-old daughter Kaila and his 6-year-old nephew Isaiah. While the owner of the vehicle was inside the shop, the suspect, a 33-year-old female jumped into the running car and drove off, according to the police.

She reportedly demanded $5 from the children, who handed the money over. The woman was pulled over approximately two hours later with the three small children still in the vehicle. The three children were returned back to their two mothers who were waiting for them back at the store.

The 33-year old woman faces one count of grand theft auto and one count of robbery by sudden snatching. She also faces three counts of kidnapping, child abuse and false imprisonment. The woman was being held without bail. The Miami Beach resident has a long rap sheet dating back to 1999; it includes over a dozen misdemeanor and felony arrests for offenses such as disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, battery, drug possession, criminal mischief, auto theft, trespassing, disorderly intoxication and deadly missile throwing.

The man who left the vehicle running outside of the store was charged with three counts of child neglect and one count of obstruction. He reportedly told the police that he was in the store for only two minutes when he had actually been inside the store for 15 minutes. The man was released on bail.

In Florida, abuse, aggravated abuse, and neglect of a child are covered under § 827.03 of the Florida Statutes. Under § 827.03, neglect of a child means a caregiver's failure or omission to provide the child with care, supervision and services necessary to maintain the child's physical and mental health, and this includes proper supervision. Neglect also includes a caregiver's failure to make a reasonable effort to protect the child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation from another person. Neglect can be based on a single incident or repeated conduct that results in or could reasonable result in serious physical or mental injury or substantial risk of death to a child. Under § 827.03 (2)(d) of the Florida Statues, a person who neglects a child without causing bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to a child commits a felony in the third degree. In Florida, someone who is convicted of a felony in the third degree faces a maximum term of 5 years in prison.

The state of Florida is particularly harsh when it comes to criminal sentencing, as is illustrated above with the father who left the three children in the car while he went into a store. This is an act that would have seemed completely commonplace a generation ago, but today it can be construed as child neglect and result in up to five years in prison upon conviction.

If you are facing criminal charges in Ocala or Marion County, you are urged to contact me at my firm, Christopher L. Dunham, P.A. immediately. When facing criminal charges in Florida, it is vital that you have skilled representation on your side to effectively pursue the results needed in your particular case. To make things easier, I gladly offer a free initial consultation so you can get immediate answers to your questions without any financial obligation on your part. Call me today so I can start working on finding a positive solution for your legal matter.