Child Endangerment in California - Penal Code 273a
If you are facing criminal charges of child endangerment, there can be very serious consequences, including losing custody of y our children, facing time behind bars, fines, and mandated treatment programs.
Parents who are arrested and charged with DUI and had a child or children in the vehicle will be facing an added charge of child endangerment. Parents that are accused of being drunk or under the influence of drugs at home with children can also be charged with this offense.
If you have entrusted your children to the care of another who is unfit to care for them, you also could be charged with this child endangerment. A child left alone at home or another location that is too young to care for themselves can result in criminal charges being filed against you. This is a domestic violence offense, and can have severe consequences if you are convicted.
This legal situation is dangerous, and the first action to take is to get a highly qualified, experienced Los Angeles criminal attorney representing you. Your children may have been removed from your care by Child Protective Services, even if you have not yet been convicted of the crime.
It can be difficult to have your family reunited, once the government gets involved and considers that the child or children are in danger, or that their safety or wellbeing are compromised due to your actions.
Penalties for Child Endangerment Charges in California
State lawmakers are focused on protecting children from harm. The penalties imposed in a conviction can be very severe. A first time misdemeanor charge can lead to up to one year in jail, and in a felony case of child endangerment, the penalties could mean 2 – 6 years in state prison, incarcerated with our state's worst offenders.
Once the sentence is served, there is usually a long period of probation, during which you may be restricted in your contact with your children, or be required to have only supervised visits.
You are likely to be required to complete a state-approved child abuse counseling program, and if the charge was related to a DUI or alcohol or drug related abuse, you probably will be required to abstain from any drug or alcohol consumption and will be subject to random drug or alcohol testing from the authorities.
When a person in authority believes that you have put your child at risk of harm through your actions, the criminal justice system, as well as other state authorities, will get involved.
Your children may have been removed from your care by Child Protective Services. The system involves several branches of the state government, including emergency responders, the judicial system, foster care, and treatment centers. This is one part of our legal system that you do not want to be involved in.
Although the goal is to protect children, which is extremely important, in some cases, innocent parents are caught in the system and their children removed from their care. To get your children back in your custody, once removed, most often requires a jurisdictional hearing.
The process is initiated by the report of child endangerment from any source. The child is initially removed from the home, and a Section 300 petition is then filed for dependency. There is an initial detention hearing, which must take place the same day or the next day in court.
This hearing must take place within 15 days of the order to detain the child. When the child has been detained, there will be a review in 6 months to determine whether family reunification is possible. You have a right to defend against allegations of abuse, neglect, or child endangerment. You want the most qualified, experienced defender on your side when the case involves your children.