Recently in the news, a New York man locked four young boys aged 8 to 10 years in a closet after he caught them vandalizing a home he was renovating.
In Virginia, a grandfather was stopped by a cop for speeding at 95 mph on a highway. He was arrested after it was found he was high on heroin, and had six of his grandchildren aged 4 to 15 in the car with him, and none of them had seatbelts on.
A Sacramento woman was arrested when police found her son with autism, whom she had earlier reported missing, in her own apartment. He was wearing urine-soaked clothing, there were dirty diapers and trash on the floor, and cockroaches crawling everywhere. The boy and his two year old sibling were taken into protective custody.
A 42-year-old man in Montana was arrested for waterboarding four children aged--two of his own aged 9 and 12, and two neighbors, aged 13 and 15. He claimed he was trying to give the boys "a learning experience."
All these incidents have one thing in common: each of the adults in the stories was arrested and charged with child endangerment.
What exactly does child endangerment mean?
The law differs by state. In California, section 273a of the Penal Code, states that a person may be convicted of child endangerment if he or she:
- willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or
- inflicts unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering or
- wilfully causes or permits a child to be injured or
- willfully causes or permits a child to be put in a dangerous situation
A conviction for child endangerment in California (unlike child abuse) does not require that a child be actually injured. In some circumstances, it is enough that the child be put in a dangerous situation.
The penalty for child endangerment can include:
- imprisonment for up to 6 years
- fines up to $10,000
- 4 to 5 years on probation, with the possibility of a protective order to prevent further harm to the child
- 52 weeks of parenting classes
Unfortunately, a false accusation of child endangerment can easily be made because the police tend to act quickly when there is suspicion of child abuse. It is not unheard of for disgruntled spouses, partners, grandparents or in-laws to try to use a child endangerment to put the accused at a disadvantage. Also, California law requires many professionals working with children -- including social workers, teachers, health care-givers and school administrators -- to report any suspected cases of child abuse or neglect, or face prosecution themselves.
If you or someone you know is in a situation that involves child endangerment, you will need expert legal advice. The Law Office of Nicolai Cocis is a legal firm located in Murrieta, California, and serves the cities of Temecula, Murrieta, Menifee, Wildomar, Perris, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Banning, Corona and Riverside and all other Riverside County areas. Our experienced team of lawyers have helped numerous accused individuals, offering sound counsel and defending their rights and freedoms in various criminal law cases.
Please contact us for a free and confidential consultation.