“Where is Charles?” “Where did he go?”
“We have to find him. Has anyone seen him in the last few minutes?”
“I am going to look by the toy aisle, maybe he is there. If I do not see him there, I will look at the electronics aisle.”
You realize that Charles can be anywhere.
“We have to comb the entire store to make sure we find him.”
Parents go through times like these and they can be challenging, but they do not necessarily constitute child endagnerment. The law in Texas bestows certain obligations upon parents to make sure that their children are not being neglected. At times, such neglect can rise to a criminal level, known in Texas as criminal endangerment of a child. If you have been accused of criminal endangerment of a child, you need an advocate on your side. Prosecutors tend to push the prosecutorial envelope when children are involved and often, there is resulting media coverage depicting the parents as monsters.
The Texas Penal Code, in the section of Abandoning or Endangering a Child, states: “A person commits an offense if he intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, by act or omission, engages in conduct that places a child younger than 15 years in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.” Moreover, there is a presumption that a person placed a child in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment if:
“the person manufactured, possessed, or in any way introduced into the body of any person the controlled substance methamphetamine in the presence of the child; or
the person’s conduct related to the proximity or accessibility of the controlled substance methamphetamine to the child and an analysis of a specimen of the child’s blood, urine, or other bodily substance indicates the presence of methamphetamine in the child’s body; [or]
the person injected, ingested, inhaled, or otherwise introduced a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 1, Section 481.102, Health and Safety Code, into the human body when the person was not in lawful possession of the substance as defined by Section 481.002(24) of that code.”
If convicted, the defendant faces anywhere from 180 days to two years in prison.
Handling Child Endangerment Charges
If you have been accused of child endangerment, contact an attorney immediately. Do not provide statements to law enforcement because they often intend to compel someone to confess, regardless whether the person committed the crime. Also, do not speak with Texas Child Protective Services, or CPS. They hand their findings to law enforcement, who will use that information against the accused.
Remember, if you have been accused of child endangerment, it is the prosecution’s job to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Do not help them by providing statements; instead speak to an attorney. Often, CPS accuses someone based on word of mouth, not solid proof. An attorney can point to holes in the prosecution’s case.
Accused of child endangerment? Contact the law firm of Christopher Abel, a board certified criminal defense attorney.
(image courtesy of Kevin Gent)