What is Child Endangerment?

Child Endangerment is defined by the law as the act or inaction of a guardian of a child that leads to an imminent physical, mental or developmental harm. In some states, child endangerment is a qualification for a child abuse case while other states have a separate child endangerment charge. A child endangerment charge does not necessarily have to be a result from a child being injured. In fact, for someone to be charged with child endangerment, all the state has to prove is that the child has been put in harm’s way because of the action or inaction of the care giver.

Who can you sue for child endangerment?

A person has to be the caregiver of the child who was endangered for him to be the defendant of the lawsuit. So it is usually the parents but if a grandparent, an aunt, or an uncle has accepted the responsibility in caring for the child and they have shown the inability to properly care and protect the child from any harm, then they can also be sued for child endangerment. A teacher or daycare worker in which the child goes to can also be sued if proven that they were not performing their responsibility in keeping the child safe by their actions or inaction.

What actions can qualify as child endangerment?

Again, it is worth repeating that actions and in actions can be basis for a child endangerment cases. For example, a child left alone in a car on a very hot summer day qualifies as child endangerment since this action is proven to cause danger on a child’s health as it can result to heat stroke. Another example is not bringing your child to a hospital when the child is clearly sick. This can be a basis for a case as well since a “reasonable person” knows that when a child is not feeling well or is obviously sick, medical attention must be provided in order to prevent fatality or further harm. Thus, not bringing the child to the hospital for medical attention is putting your child to imminent harm.

The courts also endorsed the use of presumptions in cases of child endangerment. For example, parents who use illegal or controlled drugs with children in premises are presumed to have put the child in danger. In which case, it is the defendants responsibility that the child is in fact not in harm’s way. The state does not have to prove it because it is considered a given. To obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed one of these following acts as per definition of child endangerment.

What is the punishment for a child endangerment crime?

Child endangerment can be a felony or misdemeanor. The charge will depend on how much danger you have put the child in. If the child was actually injured and had been at risk for death, then the charge can immediately be a felony charge. Prison time can range from 6 months to 20 years. You can also be slapped with a hefty fine that can range from $1,000 to $10,000, maybe even more. Again it will depend on the severity of the crime. In cases where there is no prison time involved, just a probation time the defendant is asked to get parental education lessons and they are usually referred to child protection service agencies to monitor the situation and they will take actions when or if necessary.