Articles Posted in Child Endangerment

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California law describes “child endangerment” as willfully causing, inflicting upon or permitting a child to suffer unjustified physical or mental pain upon a child. Additionally, if you are the parent, guardian or caretaker of any child and you willfully cause or permit the child to be injured or place him or her in a situation where he or she may be or is endangered, you violate Penal Code Section 273a (PC 273a).

If you endanger a child’s life under circumstances likely to produce serious injury or death, the District Attorney’s office has the option of charging you with either a misdemeanor or a felony – often referred to as a “wobbler” offense in California. If serious injury or death is not likely, a violation of PC 273a is a misdemeanor.

Penalties for a Child Endangerment Conviction

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The Orange County Child Molestation Lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have learned that a former Orange County priest has plead guilty to charges of molesting a 7 year-old boy at a Costa Mesa church in 1994.

Denis Lyons, 78, of Seal Beach, admitted to four felony counts of lewd conduct with a child younger than 14 in a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Lyons’ alleged victim says he was molested in 1994 and 1995 when he was in third grade at St. John the Baptist Catholic School.

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This is the type of case that the Riverside Child Molestation Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have successfully defended for decades.

A former San Diego County firefighter–awaiting trial on charges that he raped and photographed his unconscious fiancée in Murrieta–is now accused of molesting two young children, according to Riverside County Prosecutors.

William Robert Bolduc, a 56-year-old San Diego resident, has pleaded not guilty to rape and other sex charges filed in 2010 in connection with the case involving his fiancée. At a hearing in January at the Southwest Justice Center, Bolduc was arrested on four new felony counts of child molestation alleged to have occurred between 2004 and 2006.

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Children can be a handful and they do require constant care and attention. It is not humanly possible, however, for a parent to be 100% attentive and aware of their children. Nonetheless, it is a criminal offense known as child endgangerment to place a child in a situation that will endanger its mental, emotional, or physical well-being.

If you place a child in a dangerous situation without taking steps to ensure the child’s safety, you can face misdemeanor or felony charges – even if the child never actually suffers any harm.

Obviously, you can incur this charge if you brutally beat or shake an infant (or leave the infant in the care of a violent person who endangers the infant). You can also incur this charge by leaving your child in a locked car on a hot day or by leaving your child alone in the house where there is easy access to dangerous chemicals and appliances.

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Having a child taken away from you can be the most traumatic experience in a parent’s life. Very often children are wrongly separated from a parent because of false allegations or overzealous and unreasonable social workers.

It is far too easy for your children to be taken away by county social workers. A false abuse allegation made out of spite after a heated argument can have devastating personal and legal consequences for you. Not only are you wrongly deprived of your child, but you may suffer the social stigma of being a suspected child abuser.

In addition if a social worker concludes that the allegation is “substantiated” or even “inconclusive” your name may be added to the Child Abuse Central Index. This is not an index where you will ever want your name to appear.

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Children are viewed as particularly vulnerable members of society, so any perceived mistreatment or endangerment of their safety will be severely prosecuted. Under Penal Code 273a, child endangerment involves willfully causing or permitting a child to suffer physical or mental injury without taking steps to prevent it. This code section applies even if the child does not suffer any actual injury.

Child endangerment is a “wobbler” in that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor offense, the penalties may include a sentence of up to one year in county jail. If charged as a felony, a child endangerment conviction may result in a two, four, or six-year sentence in state prison.

This crime requires that you acted willfully or in a manner that was criminally negligent in causing unjustifiable pain or suffering upon a child under 18 years of age. The same penalties will apply even if you had care or control over the child (as a parent or other caretaker). You may also be found in violation of P.C. 273a if you merely place the child in a situation in which the child may become endangered.

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The Child Abuse Central Index (CACI) was created by the Legislature in 1965 as a tool for state and local agencies to help protect the health and safety of California’s children. Although the idea of protecting California’s children by establishing an index of known abusers is theoretically a good idea, the resulting outcome has been that many are listed on the index based on unsubstantiated claims against them.

Recent court decisions have mandated those who are placed on the index, must be given notice and an opportunity to have a hearing to remove name from the child abuse central index. Although this safeguard has ensured many to be excluded from the index, that otherwise would be listed, many feel that the safeguards and standards are insufficient.

Perhaps the most common criticism of CACI is the standard required to be placed on the index. For purposes of CACI, a person will be kept on the list if the child abuse claims are either deemed substantiated or inconclusive.

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California Penal Code Section 273a defines child endangerment as any person causing great bodily harm or death to a child. This crime includes inflicting physical abuse upon a child, but also punishes any person who allows for a child to physically or mentally suffer. In other words, a person may be convicted of child endangerment if they cause any physical or mental harm to a child.

The definition of child endangerment as found in Penal Code Section 273a is very broad. If the defendant is accused of child endangerment the prosecution will have to prove that the defendant willfully inflicted unjustifiable physical or mental pain upon the child. The pain inflicted must be unjustifiable.

If the defendant did not cause the actual pain, he or she may still be convicted of child endangerment. This situation occurs when the defendant may have been responsible for allowing the child to be put in the position where great bodily harm or death occurred to the child. The prosecution will have to show that the defendant was responsible for the child when the pain was caused, and the defendant was criminally negligent.

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canstockphoto0322598What you think is leaving your child at home for a short while to run an errand can very easily be seen as child endangerment in California. The laws governing the way you care for your children are very stringent and diligently enforced. There are a lot of household hazards that parents are unaware of, and leaving your child unattended increases their risk of exposure to these hazards and endangers their well being.

A conviction for child endangerment may require a one year parenting course, fines and penalties, and even jail time. If you or a loved one is being accused of child endangerment, you must retain the help of a knowledgeable attorney.

You don’t have to go through this complicated process alone. Our experienced child endangerment attorneys can help you navigate the legal process and achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

About Wallin & Klarich


Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.