November 15, 2019
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The Florida Statutes

The 2003 Florida Statutes

Title V
JUDICIAL BRANCH
Chapter 39
PROCEEDINGS RELATING TO CHILDREN
View Entire Chapter
Section 39.401, Florida Statutes 2003

39.401  Taking a child alleged to be dependent into custody; law enforcement officers and authorized agents of the department.--

(1)  A child may only be taken into custody:

(a)  Pursuant to the provisions of this part, based upon sworn testimony, either before or after a petition is filed; or

(b)  By a law enforcement officer, or an authorized agent of the department, if the officer or authorized agent has probable cause to support a finding:

1.  That the child has been abused, neglected, or abandoned, or is suffering from or is in imminent danger of illness or injury as a result of abuse, neglect, or abandonment;

2.  That the parent or legal custodian of the child has materially violated a condition of placement imposed by the court; or

3.  That the child has no parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult relative immediately known and available to provide supervision and care.

(2)  If the law enforcement officer takes the child into custody, that officer shall:

(a)  Release the child to:

1.  The parent or legal custodian of the child;

2.  A responsible adult approved by the court when limited to temporary emergency situations;

3.  A responsible adult relative who shall be given priority consideration over a nonrelative placement when this is in the best interests of the child; or

4.  A responsible adult approved by the department; or

(b)  Deliver the child to an authorized agent of the department, stating the facts by reason of which the child was taken into custody and sufficient information to establish probable cause that the child is abandoned, abused, or neglected, or otherwise dependent.

For cases involving allegations of abandonment, abuse, or neglect, or other dependency cases, within 3 days after such release or within 3 days after delivering the child to an authorized agent of the department, the law enforcement officer who took the child into custody shall make a full written report to the department.

(3)  If the child is taken into custody by, or is delivered to, an authorized agent of the department, the authorized agent shall review the facts supporting the removal with an attorney representing the department. The purpose of this review shall be to determine whether probable cause exists for the filing of a shelter petition. If the facts are not sufficient to support the filing of a shelter petition, the child shall immediately be returned to the custody of the parent or legal custodian. If the facts are sufficient to support the filing of the shelter petition and the child has not been returned to the custody of the parent or legal custodian, the department shall file the petition and schedule a hearing, and the attorney representing the department shall request that a shelter hearing be held as quickly as possible, not to exceed 24 hours after the removal of the child. While awaiting the shelter hearing, the authorized agent of the department may place the child in licensed shelter care or may release the child to a parent or legal custodian or responsible adult relative who shall be given priority consideration over a licensed placement, or a responsible adult approved by the department when this is in the best interests of the child. Any placement of a child which is not in a licensed shelter must be preceded by a local and state criminal records check, as well as a search of the department's automated abuse information system, on all members of the household, to assess the child's safety within the home. In addition, the department may authorize placement of a housekeeper/homemaker in the home of a child alleged to be dependent until the parent or legal custodian assumes care of the child.

(4)  When a child is taken into custody pursuant to this section, the department shall request that the child's parent, caregiver, or legal custodian disclose the names, relationships, and addresses of all parents and prospective parents and all next of kin of the child, so far as are known.

History.--s. 20, ch. 78-414; s. 4, ch. 87-133; s. 11, ch. 88-337; s. 2, ch. 90-204; s. 226, ch. 95-147; s. 6, ch. 95-228; s. 2, ch. 97-276; s. 57, ch. 98-403; s. 22, ch. 99-193.

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