As a parent, guardian, or caregiver, it is difficult when others judge the way you care for a child. When the parties judging you are law enforcement officers or child protective services personnel, the implications are far-reaching and terrifying.

If you suspect you are being investigated regarding your care of a child, seek legal support from an Edina child endangerment lawyer immediately. A skilled criminal defense attorney could help you to preserve your relationship with the children and avoid the severe consequences of a child endangerment charge.

Defining Child Endangerment

Minnesota Statute §609.378 defines child endangerment in the state. Placing a child in a situation that might injure their physical or mental health or knowingly permitting someone to do so is child endangerment under this statute. Examples of acts that could be considered child endangerment include:

  • Driving while impaired with children in the vehicle
  • Keeping a loaded firearm in a place accessible to children
  • Storing, using, or selling narcotics or illegal drugs in a place where children have exposure to or access to them
  • Engaging in prostitution in a place where children live
  • Physically abusing a child
  • Using children in a sexual performance, sexually exploiting a child, or allowing others to do so

The law contains broad language stating it is child endangerment to knowingly place a child in a situation that might have a negative impact on their physical, mental, or emotional health, or cause death. This vague language is subject to interpretation, which means that law enforcement or child protective services could potentially overreach when charging child endangerment.

Who Can Report Suspected Child Endangerment?

Some people, like health care workers, teachers, and others, have a legal obligation to report suspected child endangerment. Anyone can make a voluntary report—they can even do it anonymously. Child protective services must investigate every credible report, regardless of its origin.

Estranged family members, divorcing spouses, neighbors, and anyone with a grudge could make an anonymous report of mistreatment of a child, and the parent must deal with the consequences. Anyone facing child endangerment charges should reach out to an experienced Edina lawyer before speaking with law enforcement or a child protection worker.

Consequences of Child Endangerment Charge in Edina

Conviction on child endangerment charges could lead to significant penalties. An individual who is found guilty of subjecting a child to a substantial risk of harm faces up to a year in jail and a $3000 fine. If a prosecutor can prove that a child suffered actual physical, mental, or emotional harm, child endangerment is a felony. The penalty could be incarceration for up to five years and a $10,000 fine.

Custody and Parental Rights

The implications of a child endangerment conviction extend far beyond jail time and fines. A parent accused of child endangerment could lose custody of their child, and there is a potential that they might permanently lose their parental rights. An investigation could affect a parent’s right to visitation with their child. Conviction of child endangerment could disqualify an individual from certain employment, housing, financial, and even volunteer opportunities. The stress of a child endangerment investigation might create discord among families and impact an accused person’s mental and physical health.

There are defenses to these charges, such as fear that intervening might cause pose a threat to the child or the intervenor. A compassionate defense attorney could help minimize the impact of a child endangerment investigation by constructing a robust defense based on the unique facts of a situation.

Reach out to an Edina Child Endangerment Attorney Immediately

A child endangerment investigation can be incredibly stressful. Criminal penalties and personal impacts can be severe, so it is crucial to have a knowledgeable attorney in your corner fighting for your rights. If you are facing an investigation relating to your care or treatment of a child, reach out to an Edina child endangerment lawyer as soon as possible.

By reviewing the evidence, analyzing the full circumstances, and supervising communication between the suspect and the authorities, we could ensure that no overreach occurs, and your rights are not violated in any way. Schedule a consultation today to learn more about what our dedicated team could do for you.