Stamford Child Endangerment Lawyer
With increasing attention paid to allegations of child abuse, it may not be surprising that Risk of Injury arrests are frequently tacked on and added to domestic violence charges.
What can be surprising is the devastating impact these charges can have on a person’s career. They can be prosecuted as a felony offense punishable by as much as 10-20 years in prison.
If you have been arrested, aggressive and experienced legal representation is essential. Stamford child endangerment lawyers can guide you through the legal process and serve as your advocate to work toward the optimum resolution.
What Is Risk of Injury Conduct?
Connecticut statutes prohibit a wide variety of conduct to protect minors. Endangerment charges are often based on Section 53-21(a) of the Connecticut code, referred to as the “risk of injury” provision. Violation of any of the four provisions of Section 53-21(a) constitutes a felony offense, but the crime is classified in differing degrees depending on the severity. Stamford child endangerment attorneys understand, the broadest prohibition set forth is Section 53-21(a)(1), which makes it a Class C felony to place a minor under the age of 16 in a situation that is likely to endanger the child’s health or damage the child’s morals.
As it could be argued that a vast range of situations fall into that category, anyone charged with a violation of this provision needs to ensure that the facts of the incident are investigated fully and that they are presented to the court in the most favorable light.
Other acts prohibited under Section 53-21(a) include unreasonably interfering with a report of suspected child abuse (Class D felony), transferring permanent custody of a child in exchange for money (Class C felony) and having contact with intimate body parts of a minor under the age of 16 or causing that minor to come into contact with the intimate body parts of an adult in an indecent, sexual manner (Class B felony.)
Scenarios of Child Endangerment
In addition to CGS 53-21 Risk of Injury, CGS 53-21a outlines an additional child endangerment crime. This statute charges a Class A misdemeanor to those who leave a child under the age of 12 unsupervised in a vehicle or public place such as a restaurant, store, or hotel for enough time to create a “substantial risk” to the health or safety of the child, that conduct constitutes a Class A misdemeanor.
However, if in this scenario, the child is left in a place that serves alcohol, the offense becomes a Class D felony, and if the child is left unsupervised in a public place at night, the offense is treated as a Class C felony. Any allegations akin to these should result in immediate contact with a Stamford child endangerment attorney.
Parents, guardians, and others who are supposed to be supervising children under the age of 12 should know their whereabouts. If they do not know the location of the child and have not had contact with the child for more than 24 hours, they must report the child’s disappearance to law enforcement officials. Failure to report the missing child is a Class A misdemeanor.
How Do Child Endangerment Charges Come About?
According to attorneys, child endangerment cases in Stamford arise from a report filed by one of the mandated reporters listed under C.G.S. §17a-101(b), an exhaustive list that includes teachers, medical professionals, law enforcement officers, clergy members, counselors, and certain government officials. Any time someone in one of these positions has any suspicion that a child is experiencing neglect, abuse, or unsafe treatment at home, they have a legal obligation to report their suspicion to legal authorities, regardless of how they know the child in question or what the extent of their relationship with the child and/or their parents is.
Because these reports are completely confidential, it is far from uncommon for parents to be confused about why they are being charged with child endangerment, especially in light of how vaguely defined this offense is in terms of what specific actions may or may not constitute unlawful behavior. However, it is generally not possible to determine exactly where an allegation of child endangerment came from, nor is it a productive use of time compared to proactively dealing with ensuing investigations and criminal proceedings.
How Should Someone Handle a DCF Investigation?
Even if a criminal charge for child endangerment does not result in a conviction, the mere allegation will likely lead to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) undertaking an investigation into the accused party and their home life. This investigation generally proceeds over the course of 45 days and may involve multiple interviews with every adult and child in the home, in-home inspections of living conditions, and observation of family interactions. At the end of the investigative period, DCF may issue a finding that the allegations in questions were “substantiated,” or they may issue one of several other less severe rulings that indicate some or no evidence to support an accusation of child endangerment.
Representation from a Stamford child endangerment attorney can be crucial not just to dealing with criminal charges of this nature effectively but also to ensure any related DCF investigation proceeds as smoothly as possible and has the best possible resolution. A single misstatement or unnecessary volunteering of information during this stage of a case could have dire implications for a defendant’s rights and future prospects. To learn more about the ins and outs of a DCF investigation, click here.
When Do Protective Order Apply in Child Endangerment Cases?
In some cases, child endangerment charges may prompt a court to issue a protective order against a defendant that names the child they allegedly put in harm’s way as the protected party. Depending on the circumstances and on how the court interprets them, this kind of order may prohibit further harassment or mistreatment of the protected party, or it may impose significant limitations on where a defendant can live or work and what kind of contact they can have with their child and the rest of their family.
Regardless of how fair or unfair the terms of a protective order seem, violating one intentionally or inadvertently is a serious criminal offense that could result in felony-level sanctions. A child endangerment attorney in Stamford could provide irreplaceable guidance and support when it comes to dealing with an order following an arrest in a case like this.
What Are Some Penalties Associated with Risk of Injury?
The consequences for these and other criminal offenses are severe. Even the least serious of the crimes described, a Class A misdemeanor, is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. For felony offenses, the time of imprisonment increases to 5, 10, or even 20 years, and the fines can go as high as $15,000.
Contact a Stamford Child Endangerment Attorney
An experienced Stamford child endangerment lawyer will know the steps to take to help work toward the best possible resolution of your case and advocate to protect your rights in court. Follow this link to learn more about working with the team at Mark Sherman Law, then give us a call.