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Defending against child endangerment charges in California

Prosecutors aggressively pursue charges against people accused of harming a child, and California courts typically impose maximum sentences for those convicted of crimes against children.

Under state laws, parents or anyone else who willfully exposes a child under 18 years old to physical or mental harm, death, or knowingly places a child in an unsafe situation can be charged with child neglect.

Situations that can lead to child neglect charges

Child endangerment charges can result for anyone who lets a child under their care suffer any harm, which can mean putting them at risk or failing to take steps to protect them. These situations can include:

  • Failing to get medical treatment for an injured or sick child
  • Leaving a dangerous weapon, such as a gun or knife, within reach
  • Placing them in the care of someone with a history of abusive behavior

Unlike a child abuse charge, endangerment does not require that a child actually suffers an injury. Any situation that could have resulted in physical or mental harm can be considered.

What are common defenses against endangerment charges?

An experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney has many options to defend against these charges. Convictions for misdemeanors can bring up to one year in jail. If you are charged with a felony, you face up to six years in prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, and you could lose custody of the child. Defenses include:

  • False accusations
  • No criminal negligence occurred
  • The defendant did not willfully place the child in danger
  • The defendant was exercising reasonable discipline
  • The victim was 18 or older
  • Police misconduct or investigative errors

Many of these cases result from false accusations, either by a child for various reasons, or by current and former spouses and partners, or in-laws to gain advantages in a custody case.

Seek knowledgeable defense immediately

If you are charged with or suspected of endangering a child’s well-being, it is crucial to talk to an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible. Hiring an attorney who is also a former prosecutor has distinct advantages as your lawyer knows how these cases work.

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