You Can Be Convicted Of Child Endangerment Even If The Children Did Not Get Hurt
When your family members accuse you of child endangerment, there is usually less evidence to persuade a jury that you are guilty of endangering the welfare of children and more evidence that your relatives should butt out of your business. Despite what your ex-wife might think, letting your children swim in your above ground pool without sunscreen while you sip Mountain Dew and watch YouTube videos on your phone poolside is not child endangerment. Regardless of what your mother-in-law says, it is not child endangerment if you feed your children a vegetarian diet. It is also not child endangerment to give your children an MMR booster so they can attend preschool, no matter how much your cousin tries to convince you otherwise. Despite this, charges of child endangerment can apply even in cases that are much less extreme than the ones that make news headlines, such as cases where children were present during drug busts or when police administered Narcan to a baby who had accidentally ingested opioids that were within his reach. In fact, you can be convicted of child endangerment even if your dangerous actions have not caused children to suffer physical harm. If you are being accused of child endangerment, contact a Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer.
Pennsylvania Laws on Endangering the Welfare of Children
The crime of endangering the welfare of children is a first-degree misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of a $10,000 fine and a five-year jail sentence. If the jury finds that you habitually endangered the welfare of children, the crime becomes a third-degree felony. Most child endangerment convictions in Pennsylvania case law have involved one or more of the following elements:
- Parents leaving children unsupervised for longer periods than appropriate for the child’s age
- Transporting children in vehicles without appropriate safety restraints or, if applicable, helmets
- Drugs present in the environment or parents being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while supervising the children
All of these factors pose enough of a risk to children’s safety that they can amount to the crime of child endangerment even if no children got injured as a result of the incident that led to the defendant’s arrest.
In the News
Two adults in Adams County pleaded guilty to child endangerment in connection to separate incidents. Joseph Denis picked up his two children from daycare one afternoon after consuming opioids. Upon seating both children in their car seats and getting into the car, Denis lost consciousness; witnesses called police, who administered Narcan. Denis was sentenced to six to 23 months in jail followed by three years of probation. As for Tina Hankey, she was riding in the front passenger seat of her boyfriend’s car while he drove, and her two children were in the backseat. The couple got into an argument, and Hankey grabbed the steering wheel and caused the car to crash. She was sentenced to two years of probation.
Contact Gary E. Gerson About Child Endangerment Crimes
A criminal defense lawyer can represent you in criminal court if you are being accused of endangering the welfare of children. Contact the law offices of Gary E. Gerson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania about your case.