Different things come to mind when people hear “child endangerment.” Some think it might be as simple as losing a child at the grocery store. But a simple lapse in attention isn’t enough to bring criminal charges against a parent or guardian in Texas. Getting a child endangerment or abandonment charge is fact-specific and can carry a heavy punishment.
What is Child Endangerment or Child Abandonment?
Under the Texas Penal Code, child endangerment can include:
- Intentionally abandoning a child in a place that would expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm;
- Engaging in conduct that places a child in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment;
- Manufacturing, possessing, or ingesting meth in front of a child.
There is additional drug-related conduct that can also lead to a charge of child endangerment depending on the sort of drug involved. Police and prosecutors think about what a reasonable adult would have done in your shoes to determine whether or not your conduct was criminal.
Does it Involve a Child of Any Age?
Child endangerment and abandonment laws in Texas only apply to children younger than 15 years of age. The age of the child is considered when determining the severity of the offense or whether charges will be filed. What could be child endangerment for a toddler may not apply to a teenager.
What is the Punishment for Child Endangerment?
Child endangerment starts as a state jail felony and runs all the way up to a second-degree felony. This means that punishment can range from 180 days to 20 years in jail and carry a fine of $10,000. For abandonment charges, a person’s intention to return or not affects the charge, as does the amount of danger to which the child was exposed.
It’s not unusual to see Texas Child Protective Services investigate a child endangerment allegation. If CPS gets involved, do not speak with them without having a lawyer present, if at all. The information they collect may be shared with police and used as evidence against you.
Fight Your Child Endangerment Case
With years of potential jail or prison time on the line, your best defense against a child endangerment charge is to get a criminal defense attorney on your side immediately. The team at Stephen T. Bowling & Associates is ready to stand up for your rights and keep you informed along the way. Call us today for a free consultation.