Are you facing criminal charges for child endangerment in Los Angeles? A conviction can be devastating for you and your family, possibly resulting in the loss of your parental rights. You can minimize the consequences of your arrest by hiring an experienced Los Angeles criminal lawyer to handle your case. Ambrosio Rodriguez is a former prosecutor with over 18 years experience handling criminal matters.
Call The Rodriguez Law Group today to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, determine possible lines of defense, and explain your legal rights. The state will act quickly when it believes a child is in danger, so it is important to act quickly.
- 1 What is Child Endangerment?
- 2 Penalties for Child Endangerment
- 3 Defenses in Child Endangerment Cases
- 4 Speak with a Los Angeles Child Endangerment Attorney Today
What is Child Endangerment?
Parents generally have a lot of discretion when it comes to their children. You can decide where your child goes, who your child visits, and what your child eats. As a parent, you even have the right to decide how your child should be disciplined. There are, however, limitations on how you can discipline your children. When your behavior puts your child at risk of physical and/or mental suffering, you may be criminally liable for child endangerment.
Penal Code 273A PC
In Los Angeles, child endangerment, as defined in California Penal Code Section 273A, occurs when your behavior puts a child in your care or custody at risk of suffering great bodily harm, death, or mental suffering. You can be charged with child endangerment under Penal Code 273A if you do any of the following:
- Willfully inflict (or attempt to inflict) unjustifiable physical and/or mental suffering under circumstances likely to produce great bodily harm or death;
- Willfully cause or permit a child to suffer unjustifiable pain and/or mental suffering;
- Cause or permit a child in your care to suffer an injury; or
- Cause or permit a child in your care to be placed in a dangerous situation.
As you can see, you can face charges for child endangerment even if you do not physically or mentally harm a child. You can face criminal charges for child endangerment if you stand by and do nothing as a child is being abused.
Circumstances Likely to Produce Great Bodily Harm
In order to be convicted for willfully inflicting unjustifiable physical pain and/or mental suffering of a child the prosecution is required to prove that you were “acting under circumstances that were likely to produce great bodily harm or death.” A child does not have to suffer great bodily harm or death in these situations. It must only be proven that the probability of causing great bodily harm or death was high.
For the purposes of child endangerment, great bodily harm is defined to mean a “significant or substantial physical injury.”
Inflicting Unjustifiable Pain and Suffering
In Los Angeles, unjustifiable pain and suffering is defined to mean “pain or suffering that is not reasonably necessary or is excessive under the circumstances.” This will be a contested issue in your case that will require an analysis of relevant evidence, testimony, and information. A judge or jury will consider all relevant factors to determine if the physical and/or mental treatment of the child in your particular case unreasonable or excessive.
You can face charges for child endangerment if your negligence causes a child to suffer a serious physical or mental injury. Criminal negligence is generally considered to be conduct that is so egregious that it violates all common sense. The best way to determine if your negligent behavior could be the basis for child endangerment charges is to ask yourself a simple question. “Would a reasonable person, acting under similar circumstances, have acted in the same way?” If the answer is yes, your conduct was probably not criminally negligent. If, however, the answer is no, your conduct may be considered criminally negligent.
Examples of conduct that may rise to the level of criminal negligence and child endangerment include:
- Permitting your child to visit with a person known for abusing animals and children.
- Running a dangerous drug lab out of the home that you share with your children.
- Keeping dangerous firearms loaded and unlocked in a home with children.
- Allowing a known and dangerous domestic abuser to live in the same home with your children.
Penalties for Child Endangerment
The penalties that you face in your child endangerment case will ultimately depend on whether or not your actions put a child at risk of suffering great bodily harm or death.
No Risk of Great Bodily Harm or Death. If a child is not at risk of great bodily harm or death, child endangerment is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by:
- Six months in a Los Angeles County jail;
- $1,000 in fines; and/or
- Summary probation.
Risk of Great Bodily Harm or Death. If a child suffers or is at risk of great bodily harm or death, child endangerment can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The state will consider the injuries suffered by the child and your prior criminal record in determining your specific criminal charges. Felony child endangerment is punishable by:
- Two, four, or six years in a California state prison;
- $10,000 in fines; and/or
- Four years of formal probation.
If the child does suffer great bodily harm your prison sentence can be extended by an additional three to six years.
If you are convicted of child endangerment in Los Angeles, regardless of whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony, your criminal sentence may also include:
- An Order of Protection to keep you away from your victim and family;
- Requirements to complete a child abuser’s treatment program and/or other counseling; and/or
- Formal requirements to steer clear of drugs and/or alcohol.
A conviction for child endangerment will also cause you to suffer serious non-criminal consequences. These collateral consequences are not directly tied to your child endangerment crime. Instead, these penalties exist simply because you have been convicted of a crime. Social and civil penalties associated with a conviction for child endangerment include:
- Loss of child custody and/or visitation rights;
- Loss of the privilege to own or possess a firearm;
- Difficulty securing a good-paying job;
- Inability to secure employment in certain fields, including healthcare, education, and the government; and
- Inability to participate in important and helpful government welfare programs.
Defenses in Child Endangerment Cases
If you have been arrested for and/or charged with child endangerment in Los Angeles you should not hesitate to contact an attorney. An attorney can help you assert legal arguments in your defense. These arguments attempt to explain, excuse, and/or justify your alleged criminal behavior. Successfully arguing these defenses will cast doubt on your guilt and make it tough for the prosecution to build a strong case against you. Defenses that may be argued in a child endangerment case include:
- You did not act willfully;
- You acted a reasonable person would have acted;
- You have been falsely accused and/or mistakenly identified;
- As a parent, you have the right to punish your child using force; and
- Your conduct was not unreasonable or excessive.
Child endangerment case can often be based on the false allegations of a disgruntled family member, spouse, or parent. It will be important to gather the testimony of character witnesses who can rebut any false accusations of child abuse that are made against you.
Speak with a Los Angeles Child Endangerment Attorney Today
Are you facing criminal charges for child endangerment in Los Angeles? Do you believe you have been falsely accused by an unhappy spouse or parent? Do you believe that your actions were justifiable as a parent? Call The Rodriguez Law Group today to find out how we can help you fight the child endangerment charges you face in Los Angeles.
When you hire The Rodriguez Law Group to handle your case you can be confident that you have passionate legal advocates on your side. We know that your future is at stake and will fight aggressively to get the best possible outcome in your criminal case. Early intervention in your case is important, so do not hesitate to call us today. We will review your alleged crime, determine weak points in the prosecution’s case, and explain your legal rights.