Facing a charge of child endangerment in California can significantly disrupt one’s life. The consequences extend beyond legal penalties, potentially plunging you into a prolonged struggle for custody and visitation rights concerning your children. It’s undoubtedly a challenging predicament, yet there is always a hope. Depending on the specifics of the situation, and the quality of one’s lawyer, there’s a possibility to have the child endangerment charge lessened or dismissed, paving the way for a return to normalcy in your life. Before diving into question “can child endangerment charges be dropped?”, let’s understand child endangerment penalties and charges in-depth:
Child Endangerment Law California
Child endangerment refers to an act, or a failure to act, that leads to a child being placed in danger or potentially harmed. In California, this charge is covered by California Penal Code 273a PC. The level of danger and the circumstances surrounding the act are critical factors in how the legal system handles such cases.
According to California Penal Code 273a PC, an individual younger than 18 years of age would be defined as a ‘child’.
Please note that physical injury to the child isn’t a prerequisite for an endangerment charge. The core issue is the exposure of the child to an unreasonable risk of potential harm or violence. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for charges of child endangerment to be leveled alongside domestic violence charges.
Types of Child Endangerment Charges
Child abuse and neglect are treated with utmost seriousness under California law, specifically under Penal Code section 270. This segment of the law delineates the responsibilities of parents in ensuring the provision of essential needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical care for the well-being of their children. A disregard or inability to fulfill these obligations can lead to criminal charges against the parent or guardian.
The legal consequences of child neglect depending on the severity of the case. It could lead to a jail term of up to one year and/or a fine of $2,000. In instances where neglect is ongoing, the offense might be categorized as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Based on the severity, the accused might face a one-year imprisonment in a state prison or, alternatively, a one-year county jail term as dictated by the court.
Under California law, particularly under Penal Code Sections 273ab and Penal Code Sections 273d, safeguards are put in place to protect minors from physical abuse by their caregivers. If convicted of causing the death of a child under the age of 8, an individual may be subjected to a prison sentence ranging from 25 years to life, as stipulated under Penal Code Section 273ab.
Examples of Child Endangerment
There are several examples of child endangerment.
Example 1: For instance, if a child is placed where they can easily reach drugs, or if they are exposed to very hot or cold temperatures, like being left in a hot car, that’s bad.
If someone drives a car while drunk with a child inside, or leaves a child where they can get guns, those situations can also lead to child endangerment charges. This charge covers a lot of different situations, so it’s really important to have a lawyer who knows about these kinds of cases to help you out.
Example 2: For instance, there might be parents who discipline their children too harshly, causing serious injuries. Some might use extreme or unusually harsh methods for discipline, resulting in harm.
It’s important to note that child endangerment charges can sometimes come along with other serious charges. For instance, some of the situations described could also be classified as child abuse.
Penalties In Child Endangerment Cases
Child abuse and neglect are serious offenses that fall under the guise of child endangerment.
According to Penal Code section §270, a parent failing to provide for their child in terms of food, shelter, clothing, medical care, or other necessary care is committing a crime.
Child neglect is categorized as a misdemeanor with penalties that may include up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,000.
If a court determines that the neglect is ongoing, the offense could be elevated to either a felony or misdemeanor charge. The accused might face a state prison sentence of one year and one day. Alternatively, the court could mandate a one-year sentence in a county jail.
On the other hand, for the protection against child abuse, California law has set forth provisions under Penal Code sections 273ab and 273d.
As per Penal Code section 273ab, an individual found guilty of causing the death of a child under eight years of age could face a prison term ranging from 25 years to life.
This charge is applicable if the person exerted force likely to cause significant bodily harm. This charge is applicable when an individual exerts force likely to result in significant bodily injury. While it doesn’t substitute a murder charge, it carries a similar prison sentence.
Likewise, an individual responsible for a child under eight who assaults the child to the extent of causing a coma or paralysis may also face a life sentence.
However, the law does provide an opportunity for parole for the accused.
Child endangerment convictions under Penal Code 273a in California can have significant immigration consequences for non-U.S. citizens. Immigration law is complex, and a child endangerment conviction may impact your immigration status, including your ability to obtain or maintain a visa, green card, or citizenship. Here are some potential immigration consequences:
- Deportation: A child endangerment conviction may be considered a “crime of moral turpitude” or an aggravated felony under immigration law, making you deportable.
- Inadmissibility: A child endangerment conviction can render you inadmissible if you are seeking to enter the United States or adjust your status to that of a permanent resident.
- Cancellation of Removal: Non-U.S. citizens facing deportation might be eligible for cancellation of removal in certain cases. However, a child endangerment conviction can make you ineligible for this relief.
- Denial of Naturalization: If you are applying for U.S. citizenship, a child endangerment conviction might affect your eligibility, as it can demonstrate a lack of “good moral character.”
- Detention: Convictions, especially those classified as aggravated felonies, can lead to mandatory detention during removal proceedings.
- Waivers: In some cases, waivers might be available to overcome certain immigration consequences. However, eligibility for waivers can be complex and case-specific.
Different Ways To Have A Child Endangerment Charge Dismissed
Now, the process of addressing a child endangerment charge and seeking to have it dropped or reduced involves several steps, and is embedded within the broader context of California’s legal system. Note that having charges dropped is not easy; it requires the right evidence and a highly capable attorney.
To know more about domestic violence charges expungement, check out our detailed blog: Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Expunged in California?
You should always consult with an experienced Los Angeles child endangerment attorney to determine if your child endangerment is categorized as a felony or misdemeanor. Best consultation and information may provide clarity pertaining to the charge against you and can be an important factor in your legal strategy.
- Legal Counsel: The first step typically involves obtaining capable legal counsel. A defense attorney who is familiar with California’s child endangerment laws and has experience in this area can provide valuable advice and representation. Even if you believe that the facts of your case support your innocence, it is essential to have someone by your side to help ensure that your rights are protected and provide you with the guidance you need to navigate through this complex area of the law.
- Understanding the Law and Charges: Understand the specific charges, the law, and the circumstances of the case. This understanding forms the basis for constructing a defense strategy.
- Gathering Evidence: Collecting evidence that can support your case is a fundamental step. This may include witness testimony, surveillance footage, or other relevant materials that can help in establishing the facts. For instance, if you are facing a child endangerment charge due to an injury your child sustained, you might be able to demonstrate that the injury originated from a previous, unrelated event that was completely beyond your control.
- Negotiating A Plea Bargain: There may be opportunities to negotiate with the prosecution. This could include discussions around reducing the charges, or even having them dropped in exchange for fulfilling certain conditions such as attending parenting classes or other interventions.
- Preliminary Hearing And Trial: The legal process may include a preliminary hearing(if the case is charged as a felony), and potentially a trial. During these stages, the evidence and arguments from both sides will be presented.
- Legal Defenses: There are legal defenses you can use to reduce your chances of a conviction. Common legal defenses may include showing that the alleged endangerment didn’t occur, or that the actions were justified under the circumstances.
- Compliance with Court Mandated Programs: In some cases, the court may mandate participation in certain programs as a part of the process to address the charges.
- Appeal Process: If necessary, there might be an appeal process to challenge the verdict.
Considering the serious nature of child endangerment charges, the legal process surrounding them is complex and nuanced. It’s imperative to have professional legal representation to navigate this process. The aforementioned steps provide a generalized framework, but the specifics can vary widely based on the individual circumstances of a case.
Furthermore, the legal landscape can change, and what applies in 2023 might not be the same as in previous years. It would be prudent to consult with a legal professional who is up to date with the latest developments in California’s child endangerment laws and procedures.
Speak With Our Experienced Criminal Law Attorney Today
The serious nature of child endangerment charges necessitates prompt action, and securing a capable Los Angeles child endangerment attorney should be your priority. At Tabibnia Law Firm, our mission is to furnish you with robust criminal defense tailored to your situation. Cyrus Tabibnia believes in the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’, and pledges to guide you meticulously through every facet of your case. He extends a judgment-free zone where you can freely discuss your circumstances.
If you are in need of a skilled and dedicated criminal defense lawyer to handle child endangerment cases, Call Cyrus Tabibnia (866) 713-2159 from Tabibnia Law Firm.
With a strong commitment to justice and a proven track record in criminal defense, He offers comprehensive legal representation tailored to your specific situation. Reach out to Cyrus today for a personalized case assessment, and discover the myriad ways he can safeguard your rights and champion your cause.