Parents, guardians, and other adults have a legal obligation to keep children in their care safe. If they knowingly fail to protect them from physical or emotional harm, or unreasonably subject them to a risk of such injury, they can face endangering the welfare of children charges, which can have severe consequences. If you are facing any charges related to the welfare of a child, you may wish to consult a Delaware County child endangerment lawyer for advice.
At times, law enforcement officers go too far in charging adults with child endangerment. Some actions do not rise to the level of a criminal offense. In situations such as these, a skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to raise all applicable defenses and help fight back against child endangerment charges.
18 Pa.C.S. § 4304 defines the offense of endangering the welfare of children. This crime is extensive and encompasses a variety of different ways that individuals may commit this offense. For instance, this offense may occur when parents, guardians, or anyone responsible for providing care, education, or training for children intentionally endangers the welfare of children by violating a duty of care, protection, or support.
This legal duty also extends to anyone who employs or supervises others who are responsible for overseeing the welfare of children. Endangering the welfare of a child also may occur if individuals, acting in their official capacities, prevent or interfere with making a report of child abuse.
Another situation in which individuals commit this offense may include committing DUI with a child passenger in the vehicle. This offense can result in not only charges for DUI with a child passenger, but separate charges of endangering the welfare of a child, as well. Due to a large number of scenarios that could result in charges for endangering the welfare of a child, getting the advice and counsel of a child endangerment lawyer in Delaware County may be useful.
Endangering the welfare of a child typically is a first-degree misdemeanor under Pennsylvania law. A conviction for a first-degree misdemeanor as per 101 Pa. Code § 15.66 may result in up to five years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. All convictions for this offense, no matter how charged, will require individuals to undergo counseling.
However, if the individuals engaged in the course of conduct or actions that constituted endangering the welfare of a child, the offense is a third-degree felony. This offense also becomes a third-degree felony if the child endangerment created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to the child. A conviction for a third-degree felony carries the potential for a prison sentence of up to seven years and a fine of up to $15,000.
If the individuals knowingly violated a duty of care, protection, or support that resulted in the endangerment of the child that created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury, the offense is a second-degree felony. A conviction for a second-degree felony can result in a maximum prison sentence of ten years and a $25,000 fine.
Additionally, if the child was under the age of six at the time of the offense, the charge automatically will increase by one grade. As the potential prison sentences for endangering the welfare of children may be lengthy, individuals facing these charges may be wise to consult a knowledgeable attorney in Delaware County.
Although a conviction for endangering the welfare of a child may be a misdemeanor in most instances, it still will be a negative mark on your criminal background for prospective employers, colleges, and lenders to see. With so much at stake, it may be essential for you to contact a Delaware County child endangerment lawyer if accused of this offense.
Legal counsel may enable you to minimize or eliminate some of the potential penalties that you may be facing for a child endangerment charge. By choosing an effective defense strategy, you may put yourself in a better position to combat the charges against you.