Child Endangerment

Child Endangerment

Penal Code Section 273a

Penal Code Section 273a makes it a crime to cause or permit a child (someone under 18-years of age) to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering. Moreover, if someone has the care or custody of a child, section 273a makes it a crime to willfully cause or permit that child to be placed in a situation where the child’s person or  health is endangered. (For example, a child living in a house where drugs are manufactured; or a child in a car when the driver is DUI) This statute is a “wobbler”, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Whether this domestic violence statute is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor is up to the Orange County District Attorney (DA). The factors considered by the DA in deciding how to charge include:
  • Whether, under the circumstances, the child suffered, or could have suffered, great bodily injury
  • Whether the defendant has any prior domestic violence or assault and battery convictions
  • The extent of the injury to the child or the degree of danger that the child was placed in
  • Whether the defendant has any prior instances of uncharged domestic violence or child abuse
  • Whether drugs and/or alcohol were involved in this instance of child endangerment
  • Whether the defendant is charged with other crimes in addition to this count of domestic violence, such as violating a restraining order or domestic battery

It is important to note that under this domestic violence law the child need not suffer any actual injury in order to convict a defendant. Domestic violence attorneys in Orange County know that merely placing or allowing a child to be in a situation where harm is likely to follow is sufficient to sustain a conviction for this domestic violence offense.

Felony Child Endangerment

Those convicted of felony domestic violence under this section face up to six years in prison. Moreover, if the child did suffer great bodily injury, an additional three to six year prison term will be tacked on to run consecutively. A felony conviction for child abuse under this section also mandates a minimum of four years of formal probation. Other mandatory terms include:

  •  A child abuser’s treatment program of at least a year in duration
  •  A protective order or restraining order protecting the victim from further acts of violence of threats
  • A stay-away order forbidding any contact between the victim and the offender. (If this is issued the offender can no longer reside with the child)
  • Also, if drugs or alcohol were involved, the defendant will be ordered to abstain from use of the substance during the length of probation and will be subject to random testing

Misdemeanor Child Endangerment

A misdemeanor conviction for child abuse under this section will mandate the same terms above except there is a one year maximum of jail time in the Orange County Jail and the probation can be informal probation. Informal probation does not require visits to a probation officer. Essentially, it means that any non-imposed jail time is hanging over your head. If the court learns that you violated any of the terms of your informal probation, the judge can impose some or all of that jail time.

Free Telephonic Consultation With An Experienced Orange County Domestic Violence Lawyer

To discuss your case, including defenses and defense strategies, call The Law Office of EJ Stopyro today at (949) 559-5500. We offer a free and confidential telephonic consultation with an experienced Orange County domestic violence lawyer. We will explain what will happen in court and possible penalties.