Brianna Ashanti Lofton, 20, was arrested and charged with two counts of felony child abuse, contributing to delinquency and possession of marijuana, reports WTVD. However, during her first court appearance, she was charged with a lesser felony, according to the News & Observer. Lofton's Wake County Public Defender's Office attorney Caroline Elliot said the original felony charges were "an error."
Lofton is being held on $100,000 bond at the Wake County Detention Center, and was ordered to stay away from her baby. Her baby, who is now 16 months old, is in the custody of Wake County Child Protective Services.
Lofton was arrested after two videos on Facebook appeared to show an adult hand holding a cigarillo to the child's lips. The child is then seen inhaling and exhaling the smoke in both clips. According the arrest warrant, Lofton is accused of "causing, encouraging and aiding a one-year-old child to smoke a marijuana blunt" and purposefully hurting her child with the "inhalation of marijuana."
Police said the video was made on Dec. 1, 2017, but it was not until Raleigh residents and other started sharing the video on the Raleigh police department Facebook page Wednesday morning that officials noticed it.
"We welcome and encourage any assistance the public is willing to give us at all times," Raleigh police Lt. Jason Hodge told the News & Observer.
"Big thanks to everyone who posted information about the smoking mother and baby. Thanks to your willingness to get involved, the child is now safe and the mother is in police custody," the police department wrote on Facebook.
If convicted of the felony charge, Lofton could face up to 17 years in prison. She was also charged with three misdemeanors, each with up to 120-day prison sentences if convicted.
During the hearing, the Wake County prosecutor argued for Lofont's bail to be doubled, since Lofton is already on probation for a July 2017 driving while consuming conviction. She is also facing charges of simple assault stemming from an August incident, and was pulled over for driving with a revoked license in October. She was also arrested for marijuana possession in November.
Elliot argued for bond to be cut by half, noting that Lofton is hoping to earn her general education diploma and was "not attempting to get her child back at this point."
"This is the first … kind of this charge that she has ever looked at," Elliot said, reports the Associated Press. "She does have family support."
Photo credit: Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification0comments