What Does California Consider Child Endangerment?

Any individual who puts the well-being or safety of a child in jeopardy in California could be criminally charged for a violation of Penal Code 273a(a) for child endangerment. Often, these types of cases are related to instances of domestic violence or abuse, and the consequences may be severe.

If you have been arrested for child endangerment in California, the custody of your child, visitation rights, as well as your freedom could be at stake. Protect your rights and interests with the help of an Aron Law Firm California Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer who knows what it takes to mitigate your child endangerment charges or in some cases, have them dropped entirely. We may help you through every step of the legal process and answer any questions you may have. 

What You Should Know About Child Endangerment Laws in California

Whether you or someone you know has been accused of endangering the life of a child, you may be wondering how California determines what constitutes child endangerment.

Under California Penal Code 273a(a), a person endangers a child if:

“…under circumstances or conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or having the care or custody of any child, willfully causes or permits the person or health of that child to be injured, or willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered…”

It is important to note that contrary to popular belief, a child endangerment offense does not have to involve direct physical harm. Rather, the child would only need to be put into a position where they could have been harmed.

For instance, a child may be legally considered endangered in California if they have been left without adult supervision for an extended period of time. Or, if the child is put into a situation where drugs or other dangerous substances are within reasonable reach of the child, that could also be considered child endangerment in the eyes of the law.

What Are the Possible Penalties for Child Endangerment?

A child endangerment conviction in California is a “wobbler” offense, meaning it may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony crime. Your particular situation and whether the child was at great risk of suffering bodily harm will be considered by the judge when determining whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge.

Convictions for violating Penal Code 273a(a) could lead to imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year for a misdemeanor or in a California state prison for two, four, or even six years for a felony. It is important to meet with a lawyer as soon as possible after you have been charged so they may get to work on your case. 

Reach Out to A Skilled California Child Endangerment Attorney to Defend Your Case

The moment you learn that you are under investigation for endangering a child, it is crucial to retain an experienced attorney. Your Aron Law Firm criminal defense attorney may be able to defend your case by showing the court that you did not violate Penal Code 273a(a). Defenses could include that the accusations are false, the child was not actually in danger, or that you were within your legal rights to discipline the child.

To begin discussing your legal options with an Aron Law Firm lawyer, call our office at (805) 618-1768, or you may reach out to us online via our contact form.