A wide range of actions can lead to charges of child endangerment; a defendant’s first and second child endangerment convictions are misdemeanor, but the third conviction and beyond are felonies.
When a child is in your care, you are responsible for the child’s physical safety; this is true whether you are the child’s parent, extended family member, or professional caregiver such as a babysitter or teacher. If you do not take reasonable measures to protect the child from physical injury, you can be charged with child endangerment. You can still be charged and convicted even if the child did not get injured; child endangerment is a separate offense from child abuse and child neglect. The following are examples of situations that could lead to charges of child neglect:
- Leaving a child unattended in a car
- Letting a young child ride in a car without an age-appropriate car seat
- Letting a minor ride in your car without a seat belt
- Driving drunk while a child is in the car
- Being under the influence of illegal drugs in the presence of a child
- Possessing illegal drugs in your house or car in a place where children can find or reach them
Many defendants who face charges for child endangerment often face other charges related to the same incident. For example, if the police pull you over when your child is in the car and arrest you for DUI, you might get charged withDUI and child endangerment. Likewise, if you get arrested for drug possession while you are out in public with your children, you could get child endangerment charges as well as drug possession charges.
The Consequences of Child Endangerment
First-offense and second-offense child endangerment are criminal misdemeanors, and the maximum sentence is one year in county jail. For the first offense, the maximum fine is $1000, and for the second offense, it is $5000. For felony child endangerment, you can get a prison sentence of up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The consequences of a child endangerment conviction go beyond criminal penalties, though. Even if your criminal case does not result in a conviction, it could mean that Child Protective Services stays in your business for a long time. If you and your ex-spouse or ex-partner have a parenting plan for co-parenting your child, your ex might try to use your child endangerment case against you in order to reduce your parenting time or persuade the court to award you supervised parenting time only. It is a steep price to pay for needing to get home with your child but not having access to the car where the child’s car seat is installed. If you can get the charges dropped or get a verdict of not guilty, Child Protective Services can mess with you a lot less than if you get a conviction.
Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers are Your Best Defense Against Child Endangerment Charges
Hiring a child endangerment defense lawyer is an essential step to stop the charges from interfering with your parent-child relationship. Contact Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia about your child endangerment case.