Endangering the welfare of a child is a serious crime, regardless of the state in which the offense occurs. In New York, this crime is considered a class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanor charge a person can face, and carry potential penalties of up to one year in jail. Because it’s a criminal offense, any person convicted of this crime will have a criminal record. This could affect you professionally and personally, as it will be easily accessible through background checks.
When you’re charged with endangering the welfare of a child, usually this is an accompaniment to different proceedings. These might involve investigations by child protective services or family court proceedings. You should get in contact with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will be able to review the facts of your case, explain your options, and provide you with the best possible criminal defense going forward.
New York’s state statutes outline two categories involved in an endangering the welfare of a child charge. At the moment, the only degree of this endangering charge is the aforementioned class A misdemeanor. However, state legislature currently has proposals to create a felony-level degree for this crime as well.
To be accused of endangering the welfare of a child, you must have knowingly acted in a manner that caused injury to the moral, mental, or physical welfare of a child under the age of 17. Alternatively, you might be faced with this charge if you encouraged a child to act in a way that posed a serious risk to their health.
Multiple criminal offenses fall under this category. One of the most serious is sexual contact with a child. Also serious is the provision of drugs or alcohol to a child. You might also be charged with child endangerment if you drive with young passengers while intoxicated, or if you commit a violent act while a child is present.
A child doesn’t need to be physically harmed for this charge to apply. All that’s necessary is that the prosecution prove there was the potential for injury. The statute in New York also specifically covers a child’s moral welfare in addition to their mental and physical health.
The second endangerment category only applies to a child’s parent or guardian. If a parent or guardian of a child fails to keep the child from fitting the definition of a “person in need of supervision,” a “juvenile delinquent,” a “neglected child,” or an “abused child,” they might be subject to endangerment charges. Because parents and guardians are legally obligated to provide care for a child, failing to provide this care might result in endangerment prosecution.
There have been cases in which parents have been charged with endangerment because they failed to give adequate medical care to their child. They have also been charged with endangerment due to the failure to provide shelter and food, as well as for providing alcoholic beverages to a child. A parent might be charged with child endangerment if they leave a young child alone in a motor vehicle or in a home.
Parents can even be charged with endangerment if they don’t “exercise reasonable diligence” when getting their child to school. This is because school truancy is considered a basis for a child to become a “person in need of supervision.”
If you’ve been accused of endangering the welfare of a child, you should get in contact with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. They will be able to review your case, explain your options, and help defend you going forward. The prosecution and law enforcement officials are not on your side. You need an experienced defense attorney to help guide you through the criminal justice process.
Ultimately, your lawyer will try to find the best solution for both you and for the child in question. This might mean settling out of court, or it might mean moving forward to trial.