What Are the Child Endangerment Laws?


Quick Answer

Child endangerment laws make putting a child's life or health at risk through the lack of concern or recklessness of adults a crime, says LegalMatch. In some states child endangerment is a separate offense, while in others it is included in child abuse statutes.

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Full Answer

Various states define specific acts of child endangerment differently and the penalties vary, explains LegalMatch. Common examples include failing to report possible child abuse, leaving a child unsupervised in a dangerous area or in the care of another child, intoxicated driving with a child in the car, giving alcohol to an underage driver and corporal punishment that results in injuries. Hiring a childcare provider with a known history of sexual offenses is another example of child endangerment. Producing drugs when children are present is an instance of child endangerment. Leaving a child alone in a car is considered child endangerment.

Child endangerment laws are applied broadly whenever a parent or guardian places a child in a dangerous or unhealthy situation, says CriminalDefense Lawyer. These laws apply to situations in which a child is actually injured and also circumstances that simply create a potential for injury. Even if parents or guardians do not realize a situation is dangerous, they can still be charged with child endangerment. State law and the degree of possible harm determine whether a child endangerment case is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony.

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