Legal Question in Civil Rights Law in Florida
DCF threatening to sue for false report filing.
About a month ago, I contacted DCF because I woman I knew was abusing perscription drugs while breastfeeding her 3m od infant. DCF stated it could not be anonymous so I had to give my information. DCF contacted me before they made a house visit to go over my report which was accurate. This evening, the case worker called me and informed me that if I did not find a coroborating witness or if I did not testify in court against the mother they would fine me and send me to prison due to the accusations to be unfounded. Everything that I said in the report I knew to be fact. The mother told me everything that I knew. Is this legal? Can they do this to me?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: DCF threatening to sue for false report filing.
I do not practice criminal law so am not expert in this area, but what you describe sounds nuts so here are some thoughts. To be prosecuted for a false report, there needs to be more than just a lack of corroborating witness. It sounds like you are dealing with an overzealous DCF agent who has lost his/her sight of the fact that you are a good Samaritan trying to do the right thing. You can do two things among others. Find out who the supervisor is, then call and report the situation. Explain that you gave an honest report, based on the mother's statement, to help the child. If that does not put an end to the unusual and likely wrongful threat, you can call the attorney general's office (and even the Governor's office), as well as your local councilperson and state senator, to file a complaint. If the facts are as you say, then bringing the issue to light hopefully will have the effect of someone telling the agent to straighten up.
If, however, there is more to the story, or things go bad for whatever reason, you can get a referral with a criminal attorney for $25 through the Florida Bar to discuss the matter. Just go to the website - floridabar.org.
Jeffrey L. Sheldon
The Sheldon Law Firm
CAVEAT: This is only general advice based on limited facts and knowledge of the situation. It thus can not be relied upon as legal advice nor it the author responsible or liable for any actions by the parties involved in the matter.