There are many forms of child abuse, with child endangerment being the most common. This crime occurs when a child is exposed to unjustifiable suffering, danger or pain, even if no actual suffering or pain occurred. If you have been accused of child endangerment in California, please call San Diego child endangerment lawyer Peter M. Liss.
What is Child Endangerment Exactly?
When an adult willingly causes or allows a minor to be in a dangerous situation, to be injured, to suffer unjustifiable pain or mental suffering, that person has committed child endangerment. It does not actually matter if the minor suffers pain or mental anguish, just exposing him or her to the situation is enough to result in charges. While most people accused of this crime are parents, anyone who has a child in his or her care can face these charges, including daycare workers, teachers, babysitters and more.
Examples of Child Endangerment
One type of child endangerment we already wrote about is when a parent refuses to get necessary medical treatment for a child. Other examples could include leaving a sharp knife in easy reach of a toddler, hiring someone you know is a convicted child molester as a baby sitter, forcing a child to run long distances on a hot summer day or taking a minor in the car with you while you drive under the influence.
Penalties for Child Neglect
The seriousness of child endangerment charges will vary based on whether or not the child was at risk of death or great bodily harm. In cases where death or great bodily harm was unlikely, child endangerment in California will be charged as a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. When death or great bodily harm was likely, child endangerment can be either a misdemeanor, punishable by one year in jail, or a felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of $10,000. In many cases, because the determination of what is likely to cause great bodily harm is very subjective, a top San Diego child neglect attorney may be able to sway the prosecutor to charge the crime as a misdemeanor.
Fighting the Charges with a San Diego Child Endangerment Attorney
Just as it can be subjective to say that something is likely to cause great bodily harm, saying that a child was in danger or likely to suffer unjustifiable physical or mental harm is largely a matter of debate. Additionally, if the endangerment was a result of an accident, it is not covered by this law -for example if you were cutting tomatoes when your partner dropped off your toddler and you simply forget to put the knife away, you can’t be charged for leaving your toddler with the sharp knife.
Other defenses may include improper evidence collection, false accusations, the legal discipline of a child, not being responsible for the child, or not being the person who put the child at risk. Just like in other criminal cases, it’s important to remember that what you say in these cases can harm your defense, so it is critical you do not talk to the police without your San Diego child neglect lawyer present.
You can also help fight your pending charge of child endangerment by getting counseling or taking parenting classes.
If you have been accused of child endangerment in California, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.