Any adult who cares for a child has the legal responsibility of ensuring that said child is free from dangerous situations. When they do not protect the child, they can be charged with child endangerment. These can be complex laws that come down to one person’s opinion over another’s. keep reading to find out more about these complex factors. If you have been accused of this or another crime against a child, contact Chambers Law Firm at 855-397-0210 for a free legal consultation.
The Definition of Child Endangerment
One of the difficult aspects of being charged with child endangerment is that it can be applied very broadly and many different acts can lead to charges and convictions. Some examples that most reasonable people would agree endanger a child include driving a car in which a child is present while under the influence of alcohol, or having a child help with drug manufacturing. However, it could be that a person is charged with child endangerment for simply leaving a child home by themselves when they know the child is old enough – but the court disagrees.
Potential and Actual Injury
The current laws are designed to punish behavior that could lead to a child being harmed – it is not necessary that the child was actually harmed. Placing a child in a situation that could endanger their life, morals, emotional well-being, health, or welfare can be considered child endangerment. Of course, it can also be charged if the child was injured but this is not a requirement for the charge.
Intent is Not Relevant
In order to be convicted of child endangerment, the prosecution does not need to prove that you intended to hurt the child. The courts use what is known as the “reasonable person” standard. If you put a child into a situation that the courts believe a reasonable person would have understood was dangerous, then you can be convicted of child endangerment even if you did not know it was dangerous or did not believe it to be.
Making a Mistake is Not Enough to Be Charged with Child Endangerment
In order to be lawfully convicted of child endangerment, you must have done more than simply make a mistake or act foolishly. You must be shown to have put a child in a situation in which it was more likely than not that the child would be harmed or exposed to harm. For example, if a parent accident leaves their child in a car with the doors locked, this is not necessarily child endangerment.
If you have been charged with or accused of child endangerment, then we urge you to contact Chambers Law Firm at 855-397-0210 for your free legal consultation. We are standing by to help you understand your options.