The legal term for risk of injury to a minor in Philadelphia is EWOC, Endangering the Welfare of a Child or Children. Other colloquial terms include child endangerment or endangering the safety of a child. Risk of injury to a minor under Philadelphia law is covered under EWOC, Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Under this statute, engaging in dangerous behavior with a child nearby, if you are the guardian or in a guardianship role, will be enough for the prosecutor to be able to find them guilty of these charges.
Some examples of dangerous activities include driving intoxicated with a child in the backseat, leaving a child unattended for long periods of time, possessing or using narcotics while in a guardianship role of a child, and other reckless behavior that would endanger the child and submit them to possible injury.
After an arrest for endangering the welfare of a child, the case goes to a special courtroom in the Family Court of Philadelphia. Even though it is a criminal charge, it may start and end in the Family Court in a special room, Room 5F. This room is where preliminary hearings and trials happen when children are the witnesses within a case. The case may be prosecuted by the Family Violence Unit or the Juvenile Unit. These prosecutors are familiar with using children as witnesses and can establish their competency to testify if they are young children. Let an experienced attorney handle the legal aspects of your case.
If you have been charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, seek help from a Philadelphia risk of injury to a minor lawyer to learn about your legal options. A tenacious child endangerment attorney could help you build a defense and fight the charges.
Endangering the welfare of children could happen in a variety of circumstances. It can be as simple as having a child in the backseat of a stolen car. It could mean driving under the influence with a child in the backseat of a car or selling narcotics with a child nearby. Endangering a child by having open access to a firearm near the child is another possible charge. Other forms of neglect or risky behavior that could lead the child to hurt themselves can be charged as EWOC.
The charge for leaving a child unattended in a car would be endangering the welfare of a child, if the person who did so was the guardian or parent of the child. If the person was someone else not establishes as the guardian, it may simply be a charge like recklessly endangering another person, which is a misdemeanor in the second degree. That charge carries a possible penalty of two years in jail and a fine.
Importantly, the person who does this behavior must be in the guardianship role. So, a parent or a relative or custodian in charge of guarding the child at that time would all be examples of people who could be charged with EWOC.
The differentiation between mental and physical wellbeing of a child is more about the difficulty in proving danger to an emotional or psychic state as opposed to physical injury. For physical harm, the prosecutor can look at a more objective standard for the injury, such as being near an open stove or in the back seat of a car that is driven by a drunk driver. The court can picture the possibility of these physical injuries easily.
Injuries that come from verbal abuse, neglect, or psychological abuse are much harder to prove and will require more evidence. Often, the child may have to testify to prove that there was an actual injury or risk to injury. Some of these types of cases may also coincide with a DHS case or civil case contesting the custody of the child.
Penalties associated with sex crime charges are usually felony charges that come with incarceration. Felonies of the third degree may have up to seven years’ incarceration. Felonies of the second degree can have up to ten years of incarceration. A felony of the first degree comes with up to 20 years’ incarceration for third offenses.
Additionally, they will have certain registration requirements if they are found guilty of a sex crime. This will put them on Megan’s Law in Pennsylvania. They will be required to register under SORNA, which is a statute requiring sex offenders to register in a national database. These Megan’s Law restrictions are taken very seriously, and if someone fails to register after being put on this list, that would be a brand-new offense.
A person facing a risk of injury to a minor charge should contact a Philadelphia defense lawyer immediately because of the nature of the offense. The courts and the prosecutors take these cases very seriously because of the risk that this could happen again. A person will always be facing the risk of incarceration if convicted.
The advantage of working with an experienced lawyer is that they will know how to accurately and correctly challenge the witness’ credibility in a way that the court, judge, or jury will find compelling. They may be able to show where the child witness may have gotten the facts mistaken, or the story was fabricated.
Schedule an appointment to speak to a Philadelphia risk of injury to a minor lawyer to learn about your legal options. Call today