St. Petersburg Area Woman Loses Custody of Her Children After Being Charged With Drug Crimes

A woman who was arrested in Pinellas County in the city of Gulfport was charged with several felonies related to marijuana use and endangering her children.

Abandoned children found in a bush near the area where mother planned to get high

An officer with the Gulfport police was patrolling the area of a parking lot near the local beach just before 5 am. He saw an old, worn school bus that was sitting in the lot and looked out of place in the area. When the officer looked inside, he saw that three children had been left inside. They were aged three, six, and nine years old. After a short time, they were able to tell the officer that their mother had left the area on a boat and that they were not able to contact her until she returned. The 33-year-old female had apparently spent the entire prior night smoking marijuana while out on the boat.

Shortly after finding the children, the officer called others to help and they spent hours looking for boats docked in the area and out at sea nearby. They eventually came across the mother of the children on a vessel that was owned by a 46-year-old male. When police and marine patrol units found her, she appeared to be under the influence of narcotics.

A further investigation of the school bus revealed that the suspect likely intended to keep her children there for an extended period of time. The dilapidated vehicle had food in a small unrefrigerated bin, a propane tank, and a five-gallon bucket that had been used as a toilet. The three kids were not given any spare clothing.

The suspect was eventually booked into Pinellas County jail after being transported out of the area. Three counts of felony child neglect were pending against her. The Department of Children and Families had taken custody of the children immediately after they were found. The mother’s custody rights will likely be terminated.

Determining if a parent is fit to maintain custody of children

As a general rule, custody issues are all about proving to a judge and the government that you are fit as a parent and can raise a child in a safe, stable environment. The legal standard that is used to make this determination is called “the best interests of the child” under Florida law.

In most child custody hearings, this is why a parent with a good history of employment and a clean record that is devoid of crime and mental health issues will normally get primary custody. Regardless of your background, it is always recommended to get help from an attorney who will help present you to the court in the most favorable manner possible.

Speak with experienced local family lawyers

Attorneys who serve St. Petersburg and other parts of the Tampa metro area are available to assist you with child custody, divorces, support payments, and related family law matters. To get immediate help, contact The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet.