Definition and Aspects of Child Endangerment:
Exposing a minor to unjustifiable danger, suffering, or pain, under California Penal Code 273(a) (PC 273(a)), is known as Child Endangerment. Even if the child never actually suffers physical harm, just being exposed by an adult could be enough to get the adult charged. Child Endangerment (PC 273(a)) is a wobbler offense.
To be convicted of California Penal Code 273(a) (PC 273(a)), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The Defendant is guilty of one of the below:
- Willfully inflicted pain or mental suffering on a child that wasn’t justifiable
- Caused or permitted a child to suffer unjustifiable pain or suffering
- Allowed a child’s health to be injured while having care or custody of the minor
- Willfully and knowingly put the child in a situation where he/she was endangered
- The Defendant committed criminal negligence by causing or permitting injury to the child
- The Defendant is the parent or legal guardian of the child, and he/she was not reasonably disciplining the minor
Unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering refers to extreme circumstances or actions that a reasonable person would not inflict on a child.
Additionally, criminal negligence refers to reckless behavior from the adult that puts the child in danger. Indifference to the consequences of the adult’s actions or the risk he/she is knowingly putting the child in could result in Child Endangerment (PC 273(a)) charges.
Criminal Offenses Related to Child Endangerment:
Similar or related offenses to California Penal Code 273(a) (PC 273(a)), Child Endangerment:
- Failure to Provide Care – California Penal Code 270 (PC 270)
- Child Abuse Resulting in Death – California Penal Code 273(a)(b) (PC 273(a)(b))
- Child Abuse – California Penal Code 273(d) (PC 273(d))
- Lewd Acts – California Penal Code 288 (PC 288)
Examples of Child Endangerment:
A woman notices that every time she leaves her child with the grandparents, the child ends up getting hurt. Her son suffers from broken bones, bruises, and the occasional black eye. While the woman does not inflict physical pain or harm on her son directly, she knowingly and willingly leaves him in the care of the grandparents. Because of this, she could be charged with Child Endangerment (PC 273(a)).
A man notices his daughter reaching toward the hot stove, and he runs to interfere. He only gets to her in time to knock her to the ground, causing a slight bump to form on the daughter’s head. While the daughter suffered physical harm, the man acted reasonably to protect her from an injury that could’ve been much worse. In this scenario, he wouldn’t be charged with Child Endangerment (PC 273(a)).
Defenses for Child Endangerment:
If the acts weren’t willful or resulted from an accident, an experienced defense attorney could argue that no Child Endangerment (PC 273(a)) has taken place. Keep in mind, if the minor suffers injuries or mental harm, other charges may apply.
If the actions were not a result of criminal negligence, the Defendant shouldn’t be charged with California Penal Code 273(a) (PC 273(a)). Accidents with children could occur, and if a reasonable person would agree that the parent wasn’t criminally negligent but rather inattentive for a short period of time, the case could be dismissed.
Additionally, reasonable discipline from a parent does not count as Child Endangerment (PC 273(a)).
Consequences and Penalty for Child Endangerment:
If the child did not suffer the risk of great bodily injury or death, California Penal Code 273(a) (PC 273(a)) is a misdemeanor offense. A convicted person could be punished with jail time for up to six months and fined up to $1,000.
Additionally, a Judge could sentence the Defendant to misdemeanor probation for up to four years. This might include court-approved child abuser treatment counseling, restraining orders, and if the usage of alcohol and drugs were proven, the Defendant could be subject to random drug testings.
California Penal Code 273(a) (PC 273(a)) could become a wobbler offense if the child were at risk of great bodily harm or death. In this case, whether or not the convicted person faces misdemeanor or felony charges depends on the details of the crime, as well as the history of the Defendant.
Felony charges for Child Endangerment (PC 273(a)) can lead to 2-6 years in state prison and fines up to $10,000. Additionally, up to four years of felony probation could apply.
Lastly, if the child actually suffers great bodily harm, there are sentencing enhancements. A consecutive 3-6 years of prison sentence might be added. If the minor dies as a result of Child Endangerment (PC 273(a)), the Prosecution could also argue charges for manslaughter or murder penalties.
Child Endangerment, under California Penal Code 273(a)(PC 273(a)), is a misdemeanor offense that can result in jail time and severe fines, and in certain cases, increase to a more serious felony charge. It is essential that if you or someone you know is charged with Child Endangerment, you contact an expert attorney as soon as possible.
For an experienced attorney on your side, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record of Child Endangerment and Violence-related cases and speaking both English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Penal Code Section 273(a) (PC 273(a)), Child Endangerment. Book a free consultation today.