If you’ve been accused of child endangerment, these are allegations that need to be taken seriously and dealt with immediately. A conviction stemming from child endangerment can lead to severe penalties including several years in prison and large fines. However, the consequences of a conviction can last your entire life, affecting your ability to gain employment, rent property, or even get visitation rights to see your child. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, or caregiver who is accused of endangering a child, it’s in your best interest to secure experienced, qualified legal counsel right away.
At Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh, we bring over 50 years of combined legal experience in both criminal defense and criminal prosecution. Because we’ve all worked on both sides of the courtroom, we have a unique insight into how prosecutors try cases which allows us to create more effective, aggressive defense strategies for our clients. If you’ve been accused of child endangerment or have been charged with child abuse stemming from child endangerment, reach out to us for a free consultation.
Child Endangerment Laws in North Carolina
An adult caring for a child, whether as a parent, custodial guardian, or temporary caregiver (such as a babysitter or nanny), is legally responsible for protecting that child from harm. An accusation or charge of child endangerment means the adult is alleged to have not adequately protected that child, whether due to an action, inaction, or situation that either harms or threatens to harm their physical, mental, or emotional well-being.
Child endangerment is a form of child abuse. Even though the adult is not directly or actively trying to harm the child, the law states that had the adult cared for the child in a responsible manner, the child wouldn’t have been injured. It’s important to note that for a person to be found guilty of this crime, the prosecuting attorney must show that the caregiver or parent was intentionally acting in a way that would expose the child to danger. This means that reasonable people would know that their behavior would put a child’s well-being in jeopardy.
Examples of Child Endangerment
- Driving while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle
- Committing a crime in the presence of a child, such as selling drugs or domestic violence, larceny, or shoplifting
- Leaving a child in a hot car
- Having an unsecured firearm in the presence of a child or where a child can access it
- Leaving a child with a known abuser (such as if a parent allows a grandparent to babysit, knowing that grandparent is abusive or violent)
Criminal Charges Related to Child Endangerment
In North Carolina, child endangerment is not a specific crime in the general statute (N.C.G.S.). Instead, it falls under child abuse laws and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. According to N.C.G.S. 14-318.2, misdemeanor child abuse occurs when a parent or any other person providing care to a child “inflicts physical injury, or who allows physical injury to be inflicted, or who creates or allows to be created a substantial risk of physical injury”. Because it’s a Class A1 misdemeanor, if you’re found guilty, penalties can include up to 150 days in jail and a discretionary fine.
According to N.C.G.S. 14-318.4, there are two types of child endangerment that can be charged as a felony in North Carolina:
- “A parent or caregiver of a child less than 16 years of age whose willful act or grossly negligent omission in the care of a child shows a reckless disregard for human life” may be charged with a Class E felony if the child sustains serious bodily injury. A Class E felony conviction can be punished with 15 to 88 months in prison.
- “A parent or caregiver of a child less than 16 years of age whose willful act or grossly negligent omission in the care of a child shows a reckless disregard for human life” may be charged with a Class G felony if the child sustains serious physical injury. A Class G felony is punishable with 8 to 47 months in prison.
Working with a Child Endangerment Attorney
Crimes related to children not only carry heavy penalties including fines and prison time, they also carry heavy social penalties. People convicted of crimes against a child are often outcasts from their own family and social circle and fired from their jobs. That’s why you want to consult with experienced child endangerment attorney in Raleigh as soon as you feel you may be accused or charged. The sooner you secure legal counsel, the easier it is to begin crafting a strategy, lining up witnesses, and getting ahead of the accusations.
Contact Our Child Endangerment Attorneys in Raleigh
If you’ve been accused of endangering a child, we can help. Fill out our contact form or call us at (919) 887-8040 to schedule a free consultation!