Jessica Daniel (not her real name) is a good mom who thinks misbehaving children should be reprimanded in some fashion. On August 16, 2018, Jessica was arrested, because a Port St. Lucie police officer disagreed with Jessica’s parenting practices.
You see, Jessica had been visiting a friend in a nice part of Port St. Lucie. When it came time to go, Jessica’s five-and-a-half-year-old daughter threw a tantrum. She wanted to stay because she liked playing with the dog.
Several houses away from the friend’s house, Jessica put the daughter out of the car onto the side of the road. This was the same street upon which the child had been previously playing.
Jessica drove around the street corner but never lost sight of her daughter. From the moment Jessica put her daughter out of the car, until Jessica returned, was 60 seconds. We are sure because the event was recorded.
Jessica returned, picked up her daughter, and went home. A busybody resident recorded the incident. The busybody called the police and reported the incident. A Port St. Lucie police officer apparently felt, subjectively, that Jessica’s parenting skills were not up to par. So the know-it-all police officer arrested Jessica for child abuse. Jessica had no criminal record and no previous complaints about her parenting skills.
Jessica retained Attorney Jeffrey H. Garland right away. From the start, the case would be a trial. The defense believed no crime was committed – except perhaps false arrest.
The first prosecutor filed a formal charge. The first prosecutor claimed that it was criminally wrong to allow a child to be alone, in a safe residential neighborhood, without immediate “helicopter” parent supervision. The video showing a lapse of just 60 seconds was of no importance to the first prosecutor.
Attorney Garland asked the first prosecutor whether parents should be arrested for letting children play in their driveways or ride bicycles or walk to school. The first prosecutor would not answer these inquiries, nor would she explain what parents were to do who lived in less safe neighborhoods.
Fortunately, the first prosecutor came to be replaced by a more sensible one. The second prosecutor filled a nolle prosequi on May 14, 2019. Jessica has never been arrested for anything else. She will be moving to expunge this foolish and unjust arrest.
It is funny how some government agents want to increase the reach of government power. The Florida Constitution says that citizens have the right to be let alone. Nevertheless, a lone wolf police officer subjected a good mom to arrest and prosecution. That officer should be reprimanded and required to undergo education as to the proper role of government in a constitutional democracy.
Maybe the next person arrested by this wacky police officer will be you for making your children do their homework or chores, or for reprimanding them for disobeying house rules. Most experienced police officers know that children display the attitudes they are taught. When it is against the law for citizens to make reasonable parental decisions about how to teach their children, something has gone terribly amiss.