New York Penal Law § 260.20 concerns subjecting children to activities that are unsuitable for a minor, such as participating in sexual activity, getting a tattoo, or using illegal drugs. In New York, there are two different categories for unlawfully dealing with a child. These are distinguished based on the seriousness of the activities involving the child.
A person can be charged with unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree if they knowingly allow a child who is less than 18 years old to continue staying in a place where sexual activity is occurring, or where an activity is taking place that involves a controlled substance or marijuana. A person can also be charged with unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree if they provide or sell alcoholic beverages for a person who is under the age of 21.
Examples of Unlawfully Dealing with a Child in the First Degree
If someone has controlled substances in their apartment, such as heroine, and they also have children in the apartment, then they can be charged with unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree.
If someone purchases a beer for someone who is underage and then gives it to them, then they could also be charged with unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree. It’s important to note that, for the purposes of alcoholic beverages, this law refers to anyone who is under the age of 21. Even if the person receiving the alcohol is 20, the alcohol provider can still be charged with unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree.
Defenses Against Unlawfully Dealing with a Child in the First Degree
Defending against unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree depends on which section of the law is being argued. If the defendant supplied beer to someone who was under the age of 21, then they can potentially avoid prosecution altogether if they have not been previously charged with the same crime within the past five years. Instead of being prosecuted in this scenario, the defendant will instead be forced to take an alcohol training awareness program.
This defense is valid regardless of how much evidence the prosecution has of the violation, as long as the defendant has not had the same charge in the past five years.
Another potential defense is to prove whether or not a person knowingly allowed a child to remain on the property where illicit activities were taking place. If the defendant had a reason to believe that the child was not actually underage, then that could potentially be presented as a defense. Of course, a NYC criminal lawyer can help defendants prepare a defense based on the circumstances surrounding their specific charges.
Sentencing for Unlawfully Dealing with a Child in the First Degree
Since unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree is considered to be a class A misdemeanor, a person convicted of it could face up to one year in jail. Aside from potential jail time, a person convicted of unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree can also face up to three years of probation, as well as a considerably large fine.
Given the severity of being convicted of unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree, it’s recommended that anyone facing these charges find a professional legal representative to help them handle their case and build a reliable defense.
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