Examples of Child Endangerment
Child endangerment occurs when an individual deliberately puts a child in a dangerous situation that could cause physical harm or mental suffering. As with any crime in California, the prosecution has the burden of proof, which means they must prove all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
In order to obtain a conviction in a child endangerment case, the prosecution must prove that the defendant willfully placed the child in a dangerous situation; that he or she was criminally negligent; and that the defendant’s actions were not part of reasonable disciplining of the child. Child endangerment may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. If it is a felony charge, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant acted under circumstances that were likely to produce great bodily harm or death to the child.
Examples of Child Endangerment
Parents, guardians or caregivers will not be charged with child endangerment in each and every case. The charges will depend on the nature and circumstances of the incident. Here are a few examples of cases where child endangerment charges are likely.
Alcohol or drug abuse: These are some of the most common cases where we see child endangerment charges. For example, if a father is drunk or high after using drugs and fails to supervise his 18-month-old daughter who trips and falls into the swimming pool and drowns, that father could face child endangerment charges. We also often see cases where children are removed from homes that are used as meth labs or locations for cooking up drugs. In such cases, there is a foreseeable danger of children ingesting the drugs or being injured as a result of explosions. Driving your vehicle while intoxicated with a child or minor is also considered endangering the safety and welfare of a child, under the law.
Physical abuse: Some of the most tragic child deaths occur due to physical abuse. For example, if the child’s mother knew that she was leaving her child with a known abuser, she could be looking at child endangerment charges. However, if there was no indication that the caregiver was abusing the child or if the caregiver or babysitter had no prior history of abuse, then, the mother may not face child endangerment charges.
Hot car cases: Each year, 37 children die as a result of being left in hot cars. Child endangerment charges do stem from cases where parents deliberately leave their children in hot cars to run an errand or for some other reason. However, there are instances where a parent forgets their child is in the back seat, locks the vehicle and goes to work. In such cases where it is apparent that the parent did not deliberately leave the child in the car, criminal charges may not be warranted.
Weapons: Parents who leave their children alone and unsupervised with dangerous weapons such as loaded guns may also be looking at child endangerment charges. In such cases, however, if the child found the weapon which was stored in a reasonably safe place and used it, that would not be viewed as child endangerment.
The consequences of a child endangerment charge or conviction could include losing custody of your children. If you are facing child endangerment charges in California, contact an experienced domestic violence defense law firm that will help fight the charges and help protect your rights every step of the way.