In California, the crime of child endangerment occurs when someone:
- Willfully causes or permits a child in their care to be injured
- Willfully causes or permits a child to be placed in a dangerous situation
- Causes or permits a child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering
Unlike the conviction of child abuse, a child endangerment conviction does not require that a child be actually injured. Consequently, it is sadly quite common for innocent people to face prosecution under California child endangerment laws.
Examples of situations that can lead to charges of child endangerment:
- Negligently leaving a child with a babysitter whom you know to have a history of abusive behavior
- Leaving dangerous weapons, including loaded guns or knives, within reach of a child, in a home where children live
- Failing to acquire medical treatment for a very ill child
Depending on how the circumstances of the child endangerment charges involve risk of great bodily harm or death to the child, it may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
In cases where there was no risk of great bodily harm or death to the child, the child endangerment charge would be a misdemeanor.
Misdemeanor child endangerment penalties include up to one (1) year in county jail. Felony child endangerment penalties include two (2), four (4), or six (6) years in a California state prison.
Fortunately, as a former prosecutor, Sara D. Bratsch knows first-hand how child endangerment cases are investigated, prosecuted, and most importantly, defended.
Many compelling legal defenses may be available to you if you face child endangerment charges, such as:
- The so-called "endangerment" didn't occur intentionally
- You were acting within your rights in disciplining your child
- You were falsely accused
- You were not the individual responsible for the child
- You were not the individual that caused the endangerment