Depending on the state that you reside in, child endangerment can very easily be seen as child abuse. These acts occur when a parent or guardian allows a child to be placed in a dangerous and unhealthy situation. There are many actions that can qualify as child endangerment. There are situations that are obviously dangerous and you can find yourself charged for; for instance, in cases involving drunk driving, improperly securing a child while driving, exposing a child to drug transactions, engaging in sexual activity in front of a child, and more. The courts will take these actions into consideration to determine whether or not you should be charged.
Another consideration involves whether or not the injury was actual or potential. Child endangerment laws are actually designed to penalize those who partake in actions that could lead to a child being harmed. This means that the child virtually didn’t need to be harmed for a case to take place. State laws will define child endangerment as anything that places a child into a situation that can endanger their wellbeing. However, many child endangerment cases take place after an injury has taken place. In these cases, the caregiver or parent will be charged drastically. However, for a conviction to take place, the endangerment had to have been intentional. If the accused did not realize that the situation was a dangerous one, then it simply does not count.
This means that mistakes do not apply to these situations. A mistake does not warrant child endangerment. A caregiver must have known and understood that they were placing the child in a situation where the child would be exposed to harm. For example, courts have used this as a way to charge parents who leave their children in cars for hours at a time. The parent knew that the car would be hot and there would be a potential for danger, such as a kidnapping. This would warrant an arrest.
Penalties for Child Endangerment
You could be charged with child endangerment on a misdemeanor or felony level. If you have exposed your child to an extremely dangerous situation that was uncalled for, you may experience a felony charge for your actions. Here are some of the penalties you may face, further explained:
- Prison: Many people convicted of this crime will face up to a year in jail. Of course, if you receive a felony charge, you should expect to face the most time in prison. This means, depending on your crime, you could see up to an astounding 10 years in prison.
- Probation: If you have been convicted of child endangerment, you could serve a lengthy probation sentence. Under this sentence, you will need to report to a probation officer and follow specific guidelines put in place for yourself.
- Fines: These will differ depending on the circumstances around your case. However, you could receive fines of up to $1,000 or more for a felony.
- Parental Rights: You may lose parental rights depending on what you did. If another parent can care for your child, they will keep their rights or a new guardian could take your place.
Speaking to a knowledgeable defense attorney can help you greatly in regards to your case. In some cases, you may use the defense of reasonable discipline. However, this defense does not work when you placed your child in a situation where there is an extremely high potential for them to be hurt. A defendant may be able to get a reduction in charges, at most.
This is why it is important to obtain a defense attorney who works for you! By having a defense attorney on your side, you may be able to get a charge reduced or dropped depending on your situation. At The Law Office of Peter Blair, we work for you. Call today for more information on how to settle your case.