Child Endangerment Lawyer in San Diego, CA
Child endangerment is recognized on a state level and has many different penal codes, but although the language may vary the intent of each is the same. The states all work to ensure that no child is permitted to suffer or experience unnecessary pain in any situation where it is avoidable. Hiring a child endangerment lawyer can help you understand how the laws of your state apply to your case.
One definition of child endangerment is to make a child suffer unlawfully or willfully, or acting a way that inflicts unjustifiable pain, mental suffering, or put the child in immediate danger. This means that you can face child endangerment charge through either active or passive conduct. In other words, through action or inaction, you can have allegations of child engagement placed against you.
Action or inaction is most easily explained through example. Action regarding child endangerment is the same as actively abusing a child. Whereas inaction is the same as watching your spouse abuse a child and not preventing it or neglecting the child to the possibility of bodily injury or death.
When to Consider Hiring a Child Endangerment Lawyer
When you are facing charges this serious you should seek out a child endangerment defense attorney immediately. Depending on the situation and special circumstances surrounding your case the charges could fall into either category of misdemeanor or felony. Your child endangerment defense lawyer can assist you in understanding what critical issues are involved in your case. An example of a critical issue would but placing the child in a situation which is known to likely cause harm or death. This is the common allegation in cases where a child is left in a hot vehicle. This critical issue would result in a felony level charge.
However, a child endangerment lawyer will also work to show less than critical issues. Such as situations or scenarios that are not likely to lead to bodily harm or death and these are typically misdemeanor charges. These are typical of a child touching a stove or falling off a bed. It is unlikely that they were in immediate danger however, the injury occurred, and it was preventable.
Either way, a court will set into place a protective order which will prevent you from contacting the child. If the child in question is your child, the child protective services will likely take custody or recommend the court award custody to the other parent.
A child endangerment lawyer can help you prepare for the multiple legal battles ahead. Not only will you need to consult your child endangerment defense attorney for this case, but it is likely you will need an attorney to assist you with custody battles after these charges are resolved. Further litigation isn’t anything you want to deal with immediately after resolving charges, however, it is probably necessary if you intend to retain custody of your child. This goes for parents, grandparents, and caretakers who watch the child as well.
Child Endangerment Laws
Many states don’t have clearly defined laws surround child endangerment. Instead, there is often the overarching umbrella of the definition of child endangerment and that is upheld by police officers through the criminal justice system. But, the burden of proof in criminal cases lies with the prosecution who must show that, beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant:
- Acted with criminal negligence
- Was responsible for the child at the time
- Was not disciplining the child reasonably
- Inflicted pain or cause the child to be in a situation where they were likely to experience great bodily injury.
- Willfully permitted the child to encounter unjustifiable physical pain or suffering.
The last-mentioned aspect here covers a lot of ground. Essentially the prosecution must show that you intentionally, or willfully, allowed the child to experience physical or mental pain or suffering. This means the child must have been in your custody or be under your care. The legal jargon surrounding child endangerment can be difficult to decipher. With the points listed above being the simplest explanation, many people need the assistance of a child endangerment defense attorney. Complicated language is used not as an attempt to confuse the greater public, but so that it is general enough to include all possible forms of child endangerment or neglect. That way as many children as possible are protected. Unfortunately for you, this means that charges can be filed for a wide range of situations that may or may not actually be child endangerment.
Child Endangerment Process
A child endangerment lawyer can help you better understand the charges you’re facing. The government regulations surrounding your charges may fluctuate from state to state on what is a misdemeanor or a felony, but typically they all hold the same overarching view on child endangerment.
Child endangerment defense lawyers understand that many adult actions are chargeable as a child endangerment allegation. This can include carrying out a drug transaction or consuming drugs while in the presence of the child. Even if the child is in the relative vicinity, you could face child endangerment charges. Physically punishing your children, driving while intoxicated with the child in the car, and fighting with a roommate while the child is in the house are all grounds for these allegations.
Although many adults carry out all of the above frequently, the court system is designed to protect children first. These are all child endangerment because the court sees these situations as dangerous and likely to put the child in a situation where they can experience physical or bodily harm.
Unfortunately, the laws even on a state level are generalized and unspecific. This means that there are plenty of situations which fit the definition of child endangerment but are not. Additionally, these same generalized laws result in situations and evidence taken out of context resulting in an exaggerated or misconstrued version of events.
The best chance for a successful defense in a case for these charges is to hire a child endangerment lawyer. No doubt you can locate a child endangerment defense attorney near you with experience in handling these situations and the state prosecutor. There are a variety of benefits of retaining an attorney as early as possible. A good child endangerment defense lawyer can put together a mitigation package to stave off these charges before they are formally filed.
If appropriate, your child endangerment lawyer can compile evidence that you have a happy, and healthy relationship with the child in question. This is done with photographs, character letters from friends or family, witness statements, and any additional evidence that shows the relationship is healthy and beneficial for the child as well. These mitigation packages are sent prior to formal charges being filed to have charges reduced to a lesser offense, or to convince the prosecutor that there is no need to pursue the case at all. This is deemed appropriate when it is reasonable that the arresting officer had a gross misunderstanding of a situation. That way you’re not stuck fighting charges against one officer’s perception of a situation. A mitigation package can allow the government to see more than one side of the story and consider the evidence before spending hours in court.
Throughout the investigative portion of this legal process, you will need to consult with your child endangerment lawyer regularly. They should act as your point of contact with law enforcement and child protective services. A child endangerment defense attorney should be present at any meeting to ensure that you’re not making a statement which can be misunderstood or used against in court. They can work with you, so you understand what appropriate answers are. You can be cooperative with an investigation and with police while still protecting yourself from being misunderstood. This can all help during the defense phase of your case.
Child Endangerment Defense Strategies
There are many defense strategies for battling erroneous child endangerment charges. Work with your child endangerment lawyer to see which defense is best for your situation. Often understanding which defenses are available can put you in the right direction towards a successful resolution.
Great Bodily Injury or Death
The definition of “great bodily injury” is significant or serious physical injury which means that the injury must be beyond moderate or minor. A child smashing their fingers in a cupboard is not a great bodily injury by any means. But the criminal justice system doesn’t stop there. They explain that the measurement of physical injury isn’t based on the injury sustained alone. Instead, the measurement is also based on the course of conduct. Or, if you took immediate action for the injury. An example is finding out your child was hit in the head then immediately taking them to the ER to ensure they didn’t sustain a concussion. Another more common example is to take your child to the ER if you suspect they have a broken bone or a sprain.
However, a combination of minor issues can build up to a charge based on great bodily injury. A doctor or teacher noticing a recurring pattern of bruising, whipping injuries, cuts or similar can easily lead to a child endangerment. This is where a child endangerment lawyer can help you. Children run, and jump, and play, so it is only natural they have bruises and the occasional scrape.
If the child has only experienced minor harm that this is a solid defense because there’s no guilt here. Additionally, you must show as part of your defense that you don’t place the child in a situation where they could be harmed. A child endangerment lawyer can expose totally circumstantial situations.
Purposeful negligence and ordinary negligence are, legally speaking, two very different things. Speak with your child endangerment attorney to see if the absence of purposefulness in your case can warrant only ordinary negligence. In some instances, the prosecution may state that the negligence required to sustain that level of injury must be criminal however this doesn’t always stand up. One example here would be a baby sustaining injuries after rolling off a bed. Was it likely intentional or is it more reasonable that the parent walked away temporarily and believed the baby was in no danger.
If the prosecution can prove you were acting differently than what any ordinary but cautious person would, they can state that you were purposefully negligent. However, if they can’t prove that the default defense is “Ordinary negligence”. If any person in the same situation would reasonably behave in the same manner and the consequences of the child sustaining injury would still be present. Showing a disregard for human life or an indifference to consequences is vastly different than acting like everyone else by identifying risk and acting cautiously.
A child endangerment defense attorney can assist you to show the prosecution that your actions were not only normal, but that other’s who are cautious would take the same or similar actions. Use a child endangerment lawyer to prove that you were not acting recklessly or with gross negligence in this situation.
Lack of Willfulness
Willfulness is the recurring word in the definition of child endangerment. Many child endangerment defense lawyers will explain that the inflicted injury on the child in question must be direct and intentional. This means that you acted with purpose and knowledge of the consequences. You knew that your action would or could cause mental or physical harm to the child, and then did it anyway. The defense of lack of willfulness is to say that yes, the injury did occur however there was no intent to cause injury. Additionally, you and your child endangerment defense attorney must show that the belief was that your actions would not lead to harm. This is usually done through showing that the prosecution is manipulating a situation to appear more serious than it is. Or, showing that the prosecution did not research the entirety of the circumstances surrounding this event. Additionally, lack of willfulness is supported by the immediate course of action. If you immediately took your child in for medical attention there is no reason to believe you acted with purpose.
Parental authority grants parents the right to discipline their child in a manner they see fit if the punishment is reasonable and does not lead to great bodily harm. The phrase most often used in this defense is that there was no “unjustifiable physical or mental suffering”. A child may experience temporary and moderate pain from a spanking. This does not mean you are guilty of child endangerment.
Consult with your child endangerment lawyer to have your side of the story hears. The amount of punishment allowed considers both the child’s age and size as well as surrounding circumstances. Striking your child does not immediately make you a child abuser or show that you place your child in a dangerous situation. Reasonable discipline is used by child endangerment lawyers as a viable defense on a regular basis.
Having to face false accusations of any charge is difficult. However, the situation is especially difficult when you are falsely accused of child endangerment. These are serious charges that can warrant jail time and the loss of custody of your child. Angry spouses, vindictive parents, and an ex-romantic partner attempting to sabotage a custody agreement are all common accusers in child endangerment. They seek to falsely accuse you of a crime that will separate you from your child. Child endangerment especially is a prime choice in false accusations because it also makes it incredibly difficult for you to regain custody once the formal charges are filed.
In an effort to prevent families and lovers from using the criminal justice system to play the upper hand, the prosecution must be fair in identifying false accusations. A child endangerment lawyer can assist you in compiling phone records, text messages, e-mails, Facebook messages, and court documents to show the existing tension between the two parties. Discrediting the word of the accuser is often enough to have the charges dropped if there is not significant evidence to support their claims. This is one reason why it’s so important to retain a child endangerment lawyer as quickly as possible.
Contact a Child Endangerment Lawyer
In short, if convicted of child endangerment, even if it is a misdemeanor, you are looking at possible jail time, restitution fees, court fees, legal expenses and the loss of custody. If you are facing charges of child endangerment it is important that you build a defense as soon as possible.
A child endangerment defense lawyer can assist you in identifying which charges you are facing, why you are being accused of these allegations and how to best defend yourself. Speak with an experienced attorney to ensure that your rights as a citizen and parents are protected. Attorney’s often understand the sensitive and serious nature of these charges. With legal guidance, you can bring your side of the story light and be fairly heard.