Endangering Welfare of a Child
In most states, including California, endangering the welfare of a child is considered an indirect form of child abuse; this criminal offense is aggressively prosecuted. All states across the nation have in place laws which are extremely strict in regards to protecting children. Children need protection, as they are often naive and vulnerable. However, individuals including parents and caretakers are frequently wrongfully accused of placing a child's welfare at risk.
Child endangerment encompasses the inflicting of physical pain or mental suffering on a child in a way that is willful or that permits a child to be placed in circumstances in which the child's health or person may be in danger. Under California Penal Code Section 273a(a), an individual found guilty of endangering the welfare of a child may be sentenced to county jail or several years in prison. At The Justice Firm, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are dedicated to providing a vigorous, effective defense in order to help our clients reach their desired outcome.Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys for Those Charged with Child Endangerment
Every person in the U.S. has certain legal rights when charged with a crime, regardless of how serious it may seem. Until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, you are innocent. Prosecutors must prove certain elements in order for you to be convicted of endangering the welfare of a child. These elements include:
- That you, as the defendant, inflicted unjustifiable mental suffering or physical pain on a child;
- That you, as the defendant, caused the child suffering and/or pain as a result of criminal negligence, and:
- The incident leading to the physical pain or mental suffering of the child happened under your care.
This does not mean that you have to be present in order to be charged. If it is determined that as a parent, you left your child in the care of an individual who you know is violent, negligent, or reckless, you may be arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of your child. It is not necessary that you cause a child to suffer an actual injury in order to be charged with child endangerment.California Penalties for Endangering the Welfare of a Child
The penalties for a child endangerment conviction in California are severe, and depend on whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony. This is a "wobbler" offense in the state, which means it may be charged as either, depending on the circumstances. Penalties include the following:
A misdemeanor charge is typically executed if there was no risk of great bodily harm or death to the child involved. Penalties for a misdemeanor conviction include up to one year in county jail.
A felony charge is executed when the charges involve circumstances in which the child was at risk of death or great bodily harm. Penalties for a felony conviction include two, four, or six years in the California state prison.
Individuals who are convicted of child endangerment not only face criminal penalties, but a criminal record and possibly ruin of your reputation and/or career. We urge you to consult with a seasoned Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at once.Contact The Justice Firm Today
At The Justice Firm, we understand that innocent individuals are accused of crimes they did not commit every day. There are many defense strategies which may be effective in your situation. For instance, you may have been acting within your rights as a parent to discipline your child, or the act of "endangerment" was not intentional. Perhaps you were actually not in a capacity to be responsible for the child at the time. Whatever your situation, it is important to contact a skilled and aggressive Los Angeles child endangerment defense lawyer right away, so that work can begin to protect your legal rights and freedom. Contact us now or call 310-914-2444 for a free consultation.