Stories of child endangerment that result in criminal charges often make the news and provoke outrage. As the most vulnerable segment of the population, it is understandable that people react with anger simply reading the words “child endangerment”. Rightly so in many cases when children are truly put at risk of serious harm, but it is also quite common for incidents to be fairly minor, and police and child welfare to (DCF) to jump into cases that might not warrant a reaction from the authorities, especially on a criminal level.Criminal Charge in Massachusetts? Call Attorney Russell Matson at (781) 817-6332.
When you are accused of hurting a child, standing by while a child is hurt, or simply ignoring a risk for a child to be hurt you will not only face embarrassment and difficult questions but serious criminal charges. And you are at risk of losing custody of your child in serious cases.
Under Chapter 265-13L of the Massachusetts general statutes, you could face up to 2.5 years in prison for child endangerment. The laws define this crime as “wantonly or recklessly engaging in conduct that creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or sexual abuse to a child” or failing to take reasonable steps to stop such risk when it is present.
In other words, if you see a child being put in a situation that could seriously hurt them or result in sexual abuse and you do nothing to prevent it, you can be charged.
Examples of child endangerment that make the news include:
- Drunk driving with a child in the car (OUI)
- Drugs in the home with a child or other unsafe or dangerous materials, conditions, or with dangerous persons
- Leaving children unattended, either inside the home or outside the home
Clearly this is can be a serious crime, and slight nuances in your case could even lead to more serious criminal charges. For instance, if you actively took place in the activities that caused the harm, your charge would likely be elevated to something far more dramatic.
Please call me for help in working out a resolution to this difficult charge. You can’t handle a criminal accusation like this alone without an experienced criminal defense lawyer looking out for your interests in court.
OUI with Child Endangerment
In 2005 as part of Melanie’s Law, legislators in Massachusetts made it a separate criminal offense under OUI laws to drive while intoxicated with a child in the car under 14 years of age. This made it a separate criminal offense that defendants could face in addition to OUI charges.
Under this new law, you can be charged with child endangerment for having your child in the car when you are arrested for OUI. Any penalties for this offense would be above and beyond the basic OUI charge. In most situations, a first time OUI child endangerment charge carries up to 90 days in jail, 1-year driver’s license suspension, and fines.
Child Endangerment Defenses
In my experience, most “child endangerment cases” are nowhere near as dramatic or dangerous as the charge sounds. But, prosecutors can be aggressive in these cases, and don’t want to be accused of putting children at risk, even in situations where the charge is completely over the top or not truly warranted by the facts.
My job as a defense attorney is to de-escalate the situation and find alternatives that will avoid risking the most serious penalties.
It is difficult to offer specific advice since these cases are so specific and so personal.
Criminal laws regarding children as victims are notoriously harsh, and can be complicated to defend in court. In an effort to protect kids, it often feels like you have been judged long before your day in court.
When facing charges like these, you need an experienced local attorney on your side working on your behalf. You need someone in your corner.
If you are facing charges of child endangerment or OUI with child endangerment, contact our offices today.
We have handled hundreds of OUI cases, and a number of them with child endangerment charges attached. Let us use our experience to help you through this difficult time.
Call Now for a Free Criminal Consultation.