A Florida mom was jailed and charged with child abandonment for leaving her two-year-old girl in the hospital with two strangers. However, Carolina Vizcarra, 33, didn't know that the people she handed her daughter to were off-duty cops working for the Miami Police Department.
According to Kaina Fallat, the department spokesperson, the mother told the cops that she didn't mean to leave her child at the Mercy Hospital. However, she was worried for her toddler since Vizcarra would sleep on the streets, and she wanted to keep her baby off it.
While the toddler was handed over to the Florida Department of Children and Families, Vizcarra was jailed and maintained her right to remain silent after she was read her Miranda rights.
'Be On the Lookout' Notice Issued
According to the police report, the Florida mom handed her daughter to the police officers and said she was going to the hospital's restroom. However, she also left her toddler's Social Security card with the men, who quickly realized that the mom might be up to something else.
One of the officers followed her, but Vizcarra asked to be left alone. After the mother disappeared in the crowd, the police immediately called for help and issued a "Be On the Lookout" (BOLO) notice on social media.
A few days later, Vizcarra called the police department and said she was looking for her baby girl. Asked to describe her child, the cop at the other end of the line confirmed that she was the mother in the BOLO. The police came back for Vizcarra at the Mercy Hospital, where she proclaimed that she didn't want her baby to sleep in the streets.
Before she was booked for child abandonment, a family member, who saw the BOLO, apparently also came forward. The police are still working to verify and establish the relative's relationship with the mother and the child and if they could potentially take custody.
Meanwhile, the police are also looking at the surveillance videos at the hospital to determine Vizcarra's mental state.
"We want to know what she was thinking when she was handing off her child to this unknown man," Fallat said.
Florida has a Safe Haven Law that protects parents from persecution if they leave their baby at hospitals, emergency medical centers, or fire stations. However, in most cases, this is only applicable to newborns not older than a week; thus, Vizcarra will have to answer for her charges in court.
Child Abandonment and Safe Haven Laws
Safe Haven Laws vary per state, but it has been established for at least 20 years in the U.S. Monica Kelsey, an advocate for abandoned children, said that mothers who leave their children behind are more than likely to be in crisis mode. She doesn't believe that a mother could carry a baby for nine months just to abandon her unless she was in a bad situation without any way out.
However, beyond the Safe Haven Law, child abandonment is illegal in America, and the punishment will also depend on state laws. In Florida, this offense is considered a third-degree felony if no bodily harm or disability is involved. It could see the parent in prison for five years and another five years on probation. The erring parent could also be fined $5,000 minimum. A conviction may also impact the parent's right and custody of the child.
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