Child endangerment is a crime in California under Sec 273(a) of the California Penal Code. This crime is committed by either an older individual or a parent or elder relative places a child in a situation where the child would be in danger without providing the necessary precautionary measures to prevent danger upon the child.

Proof of actual injury need not be provided in order to become liable under this crime. The fact that the child is put in a position where an injury can be sustained is sufficient for prosecution as a criminal offense. This criminal act can be prosecuted either as a felony offense or misdemeanor offense.

In order to be convicted of this crime, the following facts need to be proven:

  1. There is an actual infliction of danger upon a child or allowance of any other person to inflict physical pain or mental suffering upon a child;
  2. There is an occasion allowing any form of injury or danger upon the child;
  3. The accused inflicts unjustified physical pain or mental suffering upon a child;
  4. Such unjustified physical pain or mental suffering was either willfully or negligently inflicted upon the child;
  5. The accused had the child under their care or control had willfully caused or negligently allowed a child to sustain harm or injury;
  6. The accused who had the child under their care or control had willfully caused or negligently allowed the child to be placed in a dangerous situation that may result in harm or injury;

The crime of child endangerment can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or felony offense. Depending on the crime, the following are the penalties imposable:

As a misdemeanor offense, the following are the imposable penalties:

  1. At least four (4) years of informal probation;
  2. Up to one (1) year of jail time in county jail;
  3. Payment of fines of up to $1,000;
  4. Required compliance of the issued protective order for the child and a restraining order against the convicted individual to prevent further violent acts;
  5. Mandatory attendance in a child abuser counseling program;
  6. Random testing for drugs and alcohol use during the term of the probation when the crime was committed under the influence of a controlled or illegal substance and/or alcohol;

As a felony offense, the following are the imposable penalties:

  1. Up to four (4) years of formal probation;
  2. Prison time between two (2) to six (6) years in a state prison facility;
  3. Payment of fines amounting to $10,000;
  4. All other accessory penalties imposable for misdemeanor offenses;

When the victim sustains an injury, another three (3) to six (6) years of imprisonment is added on to the penalties imposed. When the victim dies because of the child abuse or through criminal negligence, an additional prison time of four (4) years is added.

The crime of child endangerment is a serious offense in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.