May 6, 2014
Unlike child abuse, child endangerment does not require a child to suffer an actual injury. It is relatively easy and common for innocent parents and guardians to face prosecution on child endangerment charges because of a simple misunderstanding. Also, Santa Clarita prosecutors often pursue harsh penalties in these cases under the guise of doing what is best for the child. While it is important to protect the children of Santa Clarita from harm, it is also necessary to ensure that parents and guardians are not wrongfully penalized for crimes they did not commit.
If you have been charged with child endangerment, it is important that you learn about what California Penal Code 273a covers and what types of defenses can be deployed in court. Under California law, child endangerment occurs when someone:
- Willfully causes or permits a child in their care to be injured
- Places a child in a dangerous situation or allows a child to be in harm's way
- Causes or permits a child to unjustifiably suffer mental anguish or physical pain
For example, it is considered endangerment under the law to leave dangerous weapons, such as loaded guns and knives, within reach of children. It is also against the law to fail to get help for a very ill child or to leave a child with someone who is known to be dangerous.
It is important to build a solid defense for these types of allegations because a conviction can result in misdemeanor or even felony charges. Possible defenses include proving that the endangerment did not occur intentionally or that you were acting within your rights as a parent. You can also argue in court that you were not the person responsible for the alleged victim or that you were falsely accused. If you can prove that the act was not willful or that you were only acting within a parent's right to discipline, you may be able to have the charges dismissed.
It is important to consider all possible defenses because a conviction can result in jail or even prison time. A conviction can also result in the creation of a criminal record, probation, heavy fines, a protective order, mandatory counseling, and even a strike under California's Three Strikes Law if the conviction is for felony child endangerment. No one should face these types of penalties without representation from a skilled Santa Clarita criminal defense lawyer. If arrested for child endangerment in Santa Clarita, request an attorney and exercise your right to remain silent until your attorney is by your side.