How To Get a Child Endangerment Charge Dropped

How to get a child endangerment charge dropped

Being charged with child endangerment is a parent's nightmare. It can also cause severe damage to your reputation and finances. All these from a mistake?

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you minimize the damage. You have much at stake, and a law firm will tirelessly protect your rights and get your child endangerment charges dropped. Read on to find out how to settle your child endangerment charge in this blog. 

Understanding the Crime of Child Endangerment (Penal Code 273a(a) PC)

Understanding the crime of child endangerment

In California, child endangerment crime is the willful exposure of a child under 18 to unjustified pain, suffering, or danger under Penal Code 273a(a) PC. In other words, even if the child never experiences physical hurt, endangerment occurs when an unreasonable risk of harm befalls the child.

Examples of actions that could result in child endangerment charges include:

  • Leaving a deadly weapon, such as a loaded gun or knife, in a location where a youngster can easily access it.
  • Leaving a child with a babysitter who has a track record of maltreatment.
  • Driving under the influence when transporting a young person.
  • Not seeking medical attention for a youngster who is seriously ill.

Some states punish "child endangerment" as a form of "child abuse," while others treat it as a distinct crime. However, it shouldn't be confused with California's Child Abuse Law, Penal Code 273d.

Legal Penalties of Child Endangerment Charges

If you get convicted of a felony count of child endangerment under CPC 273a(a), you may face the following penalties:

  • A state prison sentence of up to six (6) years;
  • A fine of up to $10,000 ($10,000); or
  • Both imprisonment and a fine.

However, if you find yourself convicted of a misdemeanor count, you may face the following child endangerment penalties:

  • A county jail sentence of up to one (1) year; 
  • A $1,000 (one thousand dollars) fine; or
  • There will be both jail time and a fine.

Section 273a(a) is a "wobbler" offense. It is because you can get convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts of your case.

As previously noted, a felony conviction can result in six (6) years in state jail or a $10,000 fine.

misdemeanor conviction can result in up to one (1) year in county jail or a $1,000 fine.

Child Endangerment is also criminal under California's "Three Strikes" Law.

If you have three "strikes" on your record, you will be sentenced to at least 25 years in state prison.

How To Get a Child Endangerment Charge Dropped

The situation can be stressful if you find yourself charged with child endangerment. The legal process is long and somewhat complicated, so it's essential to learn as much as possible about your rights and the probable outcome of your case. There are several things that you should do to make sure that you get the best possible result in your case.

Hire an Experienced Criminal Law Attorney

Hired an experienced criminal law attorney

If you're facing a child endangerment charge, you must contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The penalties and consequences for child endangerment can be severe, and a child endangerment conviction can have a lasting impact on your life. But when you work with the right lawyer, you have the best chance of resolving your case through dismissal or acquittal.

Your law firm will fight hard to help reduce or eliminate your child endangerment charge penalty and ensure that you do not have to live in fear of losing your freedom or livelihood due to a false or malicious charge.

Gather Evidence and Testimonials Supporting Your Claim

Gather as much evidence as possible about the situation. Your evidence may include witness statements, photos, videos, email records, or anything else that could prove your innocence or help your case. If you have a smartphone, document any evidence immediately so it doesn't get lost or deleted.

Devise a Robust Legal Defense Strategy

Devise a robust legal defense strategy

Even if you're guilty, it's crucial that you know your rights and plan your defense because even if you are found guilty, there are ways to minimize the damage to your reputation and prospects. Child endangerment charges can be complicated, so it's best to work with a firm that has experience with such cases.

Engage in a Trial Preparation

If you get charged with child endangerment (or any other criminal charge), it is essential to have a trial preparation conducted by a renowned trial lawyer. The best lawyers will be able to help you figure out your options, how strong or weak the case against you is, and whether or not you should take a plea deal or go to trial.

Common Legal Defenses To Get a Child Endangerment Charge Dismissed

Common legal defense to get a child endagerment charged dismissed

The best way to fight the charge is to prove that you didn't do anything to endanger your child and that it's not likely you would have done anything to endanger your child. A great defense attorney will ensure that the prosecution has enough evidence to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, which can be challenging. Here are some of the more common defenses for child endangerment:

False Allegations

Many child endangerment accusations result from contentious custody disputes. A child could fabricate a claim out of anger or under pressure from their ex-spouse, ex-partner, or in-laws. These people can also make false accusations to get revenge or win custody of the child. Additionally, mandated reporters like doctors, teachers, or social workers may conclude without fully understanding the situation.

Your lawyer will fight this defense if you have been unfairly charged.

Accidental Injury

Your lawyer may argue that you did not commit the act on purpose. For example, suppose your babysitter leaves your child in the care of an abusive individual without your consent. In that case, you are not guilty of violating child endangerment laws because you did not willfully place the baby in a dangerous situation.

You Have the Parental Right to Discipline

Parents are generally free to discipline their children any way they see fit as long as it's fair and doesn't result in physical harm. However, many child endangerment cases center on the issue of how a parent corrects a child (for example, by spanking or threatening to spank).

A parent or someone acting in loco parentis (such as a teacher) may occasionally invoke the defense of "parental privilege" to reasonably support their right to discipline a child in their care. However, the parental privilege could not apply if a child suffers great bodily harm due to punishment rather than simple bruises.

Other California Statutes Related to Child Endangerment Laws

In addition to the child endangerment statute in California Penal Code 273a, here are a few other related laws related to child endangerment:

Penal Code 270 PC (Child Neglect)

The offense of child neglect is defined under Penal Code 270 PC as a parent's willful and unlawful failure to give their child basic needs, including clothing, food, shelter, and medical care. Typically, this crime is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum jail sentence of one year.

Examples of many forms of neglect:

  • A father doesn't take his sick 12-year-old son to the doctor.
  • An adoptive parent does not provide her adopted daughter with winter clothing.
  • A mother fails to feed her 8-year-old properly despite having the means to do so.

Penal Code Section 273ab (Killing a Child)

While Penal Code 273a prohibits endangering minors under 18, Penal Code 273ab prohibits threatening younger children.

PC 273ab declares the following acts against children under 8 years old to be crimes in California:

  • Assaulting a child with a force that a reasonable person would expect to cause serious physical harm, resulting in the child's death.
  • Becoming comatose due to brain injury or experiencing irreversible paralysis.

PC 273ab also defines paralysis as "a substantial or full loss of motor function caused by injury to the neurological system or a muscle mechanism."

Penal Code Section 273d (Child Abuse)

Although parents are allowed to use physical force to discipline their children, using excessive force is illegal. Inflicting physical punishment on a child (also known as child abuse) is a felony under California Penal Code Section 273d.

A prosecutor must be able to establish the following criteria to prove that the defendant committed child abuse:

  • The defendant knowingly subjected a child to inhuman bodily punishment or injury.
  • The defendant's punishment/injury led the child to suffer from a distressing physical condition.
  • When the defendant acted, he was not reasonably disciplining the child.

Get the Legal Counsel You Need and Talk to Our Child Endangerment Lawyer Today

Child endangerment lawyer

You can save time. A legal problem can make you lose everything, so you must talk to our child endangerment lawyer today.

Hurwitz Law Group provides help for multiple types of criminal defense cases. Our law firm is prepared and ready for any situation that comes your way, and we know how to win them. Reach out to our child endangerment lawyer today by using our contact form or calling (323) 747-1121.

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