Different than child abuse because it places a child in immediate danger of death, bodily injury or impairment, child endangerment charges are generally classified as a felony. A parent or guardian can be guilty of child endangerment by acting or failing to act (an act or an omission). A sample act would be taking a child to a crack house or placing a child in a confined place like a dark closet for a lengthy period of time. A sample omission would be failing to provide a child food or water for a lengthy period of time.
When the conduct by the parent or guardian is negligent, the child endangerment charge will likely be rated as a misdemeanor. But if the prosecutor finds there was a high degree of intent and a high degree of risk, the charges are likely to be upgraded to a felony.
Defenses to Child Endangerment
In order for the prosecution to prove a case of child endangerment, they must generally establishment that there was “imminent danger.” This is a highly speculative question, and with some forensic evidence and expert testimony, we may be able to demonstrate that there was no imminent danger whatsoever.
In many cases, the child endangerment charge is based on the abandonment of a baby. However, if the child was dropped off at a “safe haven” such as a hospital, a church or a fire station, in a state which recognizes such safe havens, no crime may have been committed.
The charge may also be downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor if we can establish that the suspect undertook certain reasonable safety precautions and other measures for the protection of the child, although they ultimately failed to protect the child. Where recklessness or negligence is established rather than intent, a crime would likely be re-classified from a felony to a misdemeanor.
The relationship between the caregiver and the child may also be susceptible to attack in certain cases, thus defeating the basis for the child endangerment charge.
The Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick is ready, willing and able to assist with the defense of child endangerment cases. If you or someone you know has been named in such a case, please contact Mark S. Guralnick at 1-866-337-2900 for a free case evaluation.