Child endangerment charges can lead to severe criminal penalties, including high fines, prison time, and loss of your constitutional rights. Parents or caretakers accused of this offense face a great deal of stigma, even if the specific circumstances of their situation prove that they were charged too harshly.
If you have been accused of putting your child in harm’s way, a Bloomington child endangerment lawyer is here to fight for your rights. You deserve to have your case defended by a competent attorney who could build a uniquely tailored defense.
How is Child Endangerment Defined Under State Law?
Minnesota law states that any legal guardian, caretaker, or parent of a child may be charged with child endangerment if they deprive the child of:
- Health care
If a minor’s caretaker fails to provide any of these things, they could be found guilty of neglect. The level of care required under the law depends on the age and specific needs of the child. For example, the type of supervision a three-year-old needs is very different than that of a teenager. All of this is taken into consideration when analyzing the appropriate level of care the child should have received in an endangerment case.
Likely to Cause Substantial Harm
Additionally, the neglect must have been likely to cause substantial harm to the child’s mental, emotional, or physical health. The state must prove this potential harm as part of the criminal prosecution. In some cases, a prosecutor charges a person with child endangerment before considering whether the child was actually in harm’s way. If it can be proven that the child was never at risk for true harm because of the caretaker’s actions, the prosecutor may be unable to make their case, and the defendant could avoid a conviction.
Sexual Abuse of a Child
A parent or guardian may also be charged with child endangerment if they knowingly permit a pattern of continuing physical or sexual abuse of a child. This does not include committing the sexual abuse themselves, as that crime would be a separate charge. Instead, this situation is when a parent knows that sexual abuse is occurring and allows it to happen.
A defense exists to this form of the charge. If an alleged offender had a “reasonable apprehension” that an act to stop the sexual abuse would have led to substantial bodily harm to themselves or the child due to retaliation by the perpetrator, a person may not be found guilty of the offense. Utilizing this defense can be complicated, but a competent child endangerment attorney in the Bloomington area could help.
What are the Penalties for Child Endangerment?
The offense of child endangerment is classified as a gross misdemeanor. The possible penalties include a maximum possible jail sentence of up to one year, a maximum possible fine of up to $3,000, or both.
If the deprivation actually resulted in substantial harm to the child’s physical, emotional, or mental health, the penalties are more serious. When this is the case, the offense becomes a felony and the penalties include:
- A maximum possible prison sentence of up to five years in prison
- A maximum possible fine of up to $10,000
- The loss of certain constitutional rights
In either case, the penalties are incredibly serious, and a defendant may need an experienced local lawyer to fight on their behalf to prevent these child endangerment penalties.
Consult a Child Endangerment Attorney in Bloomington
If you are facing child endangerment charges, you should immediately start building a strong defense designed specifically for your situation. An experienced Bloomington child endangerment attorney could defend your case and protect your rights. Call today for a consultation and learn more about your legal options.