Parents, guardians, teachers, and other adults who are responsible for children’s safety can face endangerment charges if they expose a child to potential harm while they are in their care. A conviction for this domestic violence offense can result in serious misdemeanor or felony charges and have a lasting impact on your reputation. Others might feel they cannot trust you with their children, and you could lose your job and have difficulties obtaining a new one. Rather than allow an accusation to move forward uncontested, engage a DeKalb County child endangerment lawyer to help you fight your charges.
Child endangerment is a serious criminal offense under state law. For a charge to be levied, the child must have been exposed to a situation or action that increased their vulnerability to physical and or psychological harm. Such actions and situations can include:
While physical harm is often involved in these charges, any action that increases the child’s risk of physical, emotional, or mental health is considered child endangerment. A person accused of any type of child endangerment charge will likely need the assistance of a DeKalb County attorney.
To convict someone on an endangerment charge, the prosecution does not need to show that the defendant was intentionally trying to place the child in harm’s way. Instead, the court system uses a “reasonable person” standard to assign guilt. This means that even if the accused did not realize their actions could potentially harm a child, they still should have known that endangerment was possible.
For example, if a parent consumed excessive alcohol but believed they were sober enough to drive and take their child to a store, they would still face criminal charges because they should have understood that driving while intoxicated with a child in the car was potentially harmful to the child’s well-being.
Defenses in these cases vary depending on the defendant’s actions and intentions. A DeKalb County attorney could work diligently to determine viable defenses to a child endangerment charge, such as the guardian bringing a child into a situation that became hazardous. For example, if a school bus driver got into an accident because of another driver tailgating them, they could likely avoid a conviction because they did not cause the accident and did their best to avoid it.
Legal penalties for endangerment convictions include up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for a first or second misdemeanor offense. Subsequent offenses are felonies and can result in a prison sentence of up to three years and/or fines up to $5,000.
Accusations of child endangerment are always severe, and these cases are prosecuted harshly. If you are in this situation, it could be crucial to consult a DeKalb County child endangerment lawyer to help you build a strong defense. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your options.