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You’ve been hit with child endangerment charges in California, and now you aren’t sure what to do or where to turn. This is a time of crisis, as child endangerment charges can carry harsh sentences, including years in prison and hefty fines. Now is the time to fight back with the help of an experienced attorney.
Whether you’re facing misdemeanor or felony child endangerment charges, you’ll need an Oakland criminal defense attorney like Elliot Silver on your side to fight for you. By working with Silver Law Firm, you have the best chance of getting your charges reduced – or perhaps dropped altogether.
Contact attorney Silver today at (510) 995-0000 to learn more during our free and confidential consultation.
What Is Child Endangerment?
Under California law, child endangerment is defined as willfully or permitting a minor to become injured, willfully causing or permitting a child to be put into an unsafe situation, and causing or permitting a minor to experience unjustifiable mental suffering or physical pain.
The child must have been in your care at the time the incident occurred. You can be charged with child endangerment even if you’re not a parent. As long as a child (minor) under 18 years old is under your care, then charges could be applied.
Examples of Child Endangerment
Whether you are a child’s parent, babysitter, guardian, or otherwise taking care of the child, you could be charged with child endangerment if you purposefully put them in a dangerous situation.
For example, you could be arrested and charged for leaving a child in the car alone. You may also face charges if you leave a weapon in your home and it’s accessible to a child, you leave a child at home with no adult to look after them, you leave a child alone with someone who is abusive, you do not look after a child because you’re using drugs or alcohol, or you drive drunk with your child in the car.
Keep in mind that if the child is yours, then in addition to having to serve time behind bars and/or pay fines, Child Protective Services could come and take away your child.
Penalties for Child Endangerment
Child endangerment is a wobbler offense, which means that it could be classified as a misdemeanor or felony.
You could be charged with a misdemeanor if there was no risk of great bodily injury or death to the child. Consequences include:
- Up to one year in county jail, and/or
- A fine up to $1,000
You could be charged with a felony if there was a risk of death or great bodily injury. Consequences include:
- Two, four, or six years in California state prison
- A fine up to $10,000
Great bodily injury means substantial physical injury. If you’re convicted of felony child endangerment and the child experienced great bodily injury, it could count as a strike under California’s Three Strikes law. If you have three strikes on your record, you could go to California state prison for 25 years to life.
Remember that depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be given probation and not have to go to jail or spend less time in jail than usual. If you are given probation, then you may be subject to counseling, a restraining order, and drug testing, if it’s applicable to your situation.
Defenses to Child Endangerment
If you’re charged with child endangerment, you can defend yourself if the following circumstances apply.
Perhaps you didn’t know or there is no way you could have known that what you did would endanger your child. For instance, perhaps you left your child with a babysitter you did a background check on, but that person was an abuser whose actions were never previously reported. You did everything you could to ensure you were leaving your child with a responsible person, and it’s not reasonable that you could have known they were abusive.
Maybe your actions were accidental, but they couldn’t be classified as intentional or reckless. Additionally, the prosecutor may not have the evidence to convict you of child endangerment. Or, perhaps you didn’t commit the crime; maybe the child wasn’t even in your care when the alleged crime occurred. A manipulative or vengeful ex could have reported you for child endangerment to get back at you, or a child may be lying about it.
If you were disciplining a child and not abusing them, then child endangerment would not apply. For example, perhaps your child was about to jump in front of a car and you yelled at them to stop in order to save them. Someone may have misinterpreted this as you abusing your child if they didn’t see what was really going on. You couldn’t be convicted of child endangerment because you were being reasonable.
You and your Oakland criminal defense attorney will work together to formulate a defense depending on the facts surrounding your situation.
Contact Oakland Criminal Defense Attorney Elliot Silver
Getting charged with child endangerment can have a negative impact on your life, especially if you don’t fight back against the charges. A conviction could follow you for the rest of your life, which is why you just can’t take a gamble with your future.
If you need representation for child endangerment charges now, reach out to Oakland criminal defense attorney Elliot Silver today at (510) 995-0000 or by emailing him at email@example.com to schedule your free consultation.