The responsibility of raising kids falls on parents and their appointed guardians. Child endangerment in Texas is putting a child at risk or abandoning them which is illegal. Penalties of child endangerment and abandonment may follow from doing so.
Not just parents and guardians are subject to criminal charges. You can file a criminal complaint against a teacher, a babysitter, or a childcare provider.
If you are under investigation for abandoning or endangering a child, you should get legal advice immediately.
Definition in Texas
Little ones have no protection. The government has passed rules that punish people for leaving children in dangerous situations to prevent this from happening.
Under Texas penal code article 22.041, it is unlawful for anyone with custody, care, or control of a child under the age of 15 to knowingly abandon the kid in any location.
The law considers “abandonment” to be leaving a child somewhere without providing them with the reasonable and essential care required. This is especially in circumstances where no reasonable adult would leave without a child of that age and ability alone.
What Reflects Child Endangerment or Abandonment?
Child endangerment in Texas may involve anything as fundamental as not making your kids wear their seatbelts or leaving them inside a car alone for five minutes.
According to the Texas Administrative Code, the offense is:
- Engage in actions that would put a child under 15 at immediate risk of death, bodily harm, or physical or mental disability intentionally, intentionally, deliberately, or with criminal carelessness.
There are a few instances where the state presumes that the kid is in immediate danger. These circumstances consist of the following:
- Methamphetamine production, possession, or use in front of a kid.
- The child has methamphetamine in his system.
- You used and possessed a substance from the punishment category one illegally.
Other situations might include having a DWI while caring for a kid, having sex in public when a child is present, and putting a youngster in the vicinity of an unattended firearm.
Examples of Child Endangerment or Abandonment
Child abandonment is less severe than child endangerment. Charges of child endangerment with automobiles are one illustration of this.
Even though reporting child endangerment can take many different forms, once you examine enough instances, you’ll see that they all seem to have specific characteristics.
To understand what we mean, consider the following examples:
- A high school administrator in San Francisco was detained for endangering children by driving while inebriated.
When the police came, they discovered the keys in her handbag and discovered that she had been drinking. They encouraged her not to drive home but to locate another ride.
The woman fled the scene in her vehicle, though, so the police stopped her and detained her on suspicion of drunk driving.
- A guy was detained on six charges of endangering children. He was driving while intoxicated, speeding, using the wrong lane, and failing to buckle up a youngster in a safety seat.
Did you notice the connecting factor? Every single incident included a vehicle.
Texas child endangerment charges frequently include cars, but why? We’ll go through the different legal ways you can endanger your child while driving and the steps you can take if you’ve been accused of doing so.
Child Endangerment in Vehicles
Texas law forbids several actions that could jeopardize children.
Irresponsible driving habits such as speeding, tailgating, lane changes, and others endanger you, your child, and others.
You might be charged with both driving infractions and child endangerment If your child is in the vehicle.
If you operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or another substance, you might face drunk driving charges.
In addition to penalties for aggravated drunk or drugged driving, you may also be charged with child endangerment if a youngster travels with you in the car.
No vehicle seat or seatbelt
Texas law mandates the use of seatbelts and child safety seats. If your child is not wearing a car seat or seatbelt according to recommended age and weight recommendations, you may be charged with child endangerment.
Leaving a kid in a vehicle
Texas law makes it illegal to leave a kid under the age of seven alone in a moving car for more than five minutes, and the court may decide to bring charges against you for putting your child at undue risk.
The majority of jurors would view leaving a youngster in an unattended automobile as an unjustifiable risk that puts the child in danger.
Texas law makes it illegal for anybody to engage in behavior that could result in a child’s physical or mental impairment, bodily damage, or danger of death.
It is illegal whether the conduct is careless, reckless, or purposeful.
Laws against drugs and child endangerment
Texas is one of the few states where marijuana is still banned while increasingly loosening its marijuana-related regulations.
This indicates that there are regulations on marijuana usage that have severe punishments.
While smoking in front of your children or giving them access to marijuana, THC candies, or THC oil, for instance, may not seem like a major concern on its own, doing so can have significant repercussions.
For instance, a Texas father who smoked marijuana before a child without bringing the youngster to a doctor was found guilty of child endangerment.
Kid endangerment is a broad allegation since it encompasses any situation in which someone could recklessly or intentionally endanger a kid.
Charged with child endangerment?
Depending on the specifics of the case and state law, child endangerment can result in a misdemeanor or felony punishment. The possible penalties for conviction are the same regardless of where the offense takes place, even if each state treats child endangerment differently.
Depending on whether the adult’s actions caused the kid physical injury, several states additionally distinguish between crimes and misdemeanors.
Prison or jail.
A misdemeanor conviction for child endangerment normally carries a sentence of up to one year in prison. Anyone convicted of felony child endangerment might spend many years in jail or more since felony crimes are substantially more serious.
The court may sentence anyone found guilty of harming minors to probation. A person on probation must routinely report to a probation officer and take other steps, including going to family therapy and abstaining from more unlawful conduct.
Probation usually lasts at least a year. If the offender breaks the probationary requirements, the court may impose a jail or prison sentence.
Penalties for felony convictions in child endangerment cases can reach $10,000 or more, while misdemeanor convictions carry penalties of up to $1,000.
If they are found guilty of endangering a child, a parent’s parental rights may be taken away by the court. In this case, either the other parent will continue to have exclusive custody of the child or, if there is no other parent, the court will name a new guardian to take care of the child. The state agency for child services may also take care of the child.
Defending Against Child Endangerment Charges in Texas
In certain circumstances, certain defenses are applicable.
If a person leaves a newborn with emergency medical personnel, a fee may not be assessed.
Additionally, your criminal attorney must try to compile evidence to bring to the grand jury because child endangerment and child abandonment are often classified as felony-level charges in Texas.
In Texas, a grand jury must hear every criminal case. A reduction of the charge to a misdemeanor or no bill of the case.
Childcare personnel have a greater obligation to report cases of child abuse or abandonment, and failing to do so can result in charges of a misdemeanor or a crime punishable by state prison.
These people have a deadline by which they must report any cases of child abandonment or endangerment.
According to Texas law, a professional is someone who holds a state license or certification, works for a facility that holds a state license or certification, and regularly comes into contact with children.
Professionals in child care may include:
- Daycare personnel
- Those in charge of corrections or juvenile detention
- Probation officers for youth
- Employees at a reproductive clinic or facility
Child endangerment is a severe problem in Texas, where it is unlawful to endanger or abandon a child.
Penalties for child endangerment and abandonment may result.
It is illegal for anybody with custody, care, or control of a child under the age of 15 to willfully abandon the child in any location or condition that places the child in excessive danger of damage, according to Texas Criminal Code Article 22.041.