Abandoning or Endangering a Child
Whether the charge is for your child or for another child that is in your care, custody, or control, a child endangerment or abandonment investigation and/or charge is rarely an expected occurrence, and never a welcome one. However, investigations in Texas into child endangerment and child abandonment occur frequently, usually caused by the suspicion of another person or professional obligated to report that suspicion to the proper government authority.
These investigations, if not handled fairly, can be incriminating and any resulting charges biased. The counsel of an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer in Williamson County is strongly advised.
Williamson County Child Endangerment Attorney
For a charge that can arise out of a whim or mild suspicion, both child endangerment and child abandonment come with very severe penalties in the state of Texas. If you have been charged with abandoning or endangering a child in Georgetown or the nearby areas of Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander, Taylor, Hutto, Killeen, Temple, Belton, or Harker Heights, contact experienced criminal defense lawyer Michael J. Price. He can help your case through both the investigation and any resulting criminal process.
Law Office of Price & Wiggins, P.C. is committed to treating every client fairly and making sure that their rights are protected under Texas and federal law, even when it comes to a weighty emotional issue like child abuse. For your free consultation on what Law Office of Price & Wiggins, P.C. can do for your Georgetown area child endangerment or child abandonment case, call (512) 354-1880 today to schedule your free consultation.
Abandoning or Endangering a Child in Texas Defined
Child abandonment and child endangerment are two separate, but related offense defined under the same statute: Texas Penal Code Section § 22.041. Child abandonment is specified in § 22.041(b) as any person who intentionally abandons a child younger than 15 years in their custody, care, or control in any place or circumstances that expose the child to unreasonable risk of harm. To abandon in this statute means to leave a child in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care for him or her, in circumstances which no other reasonable adult would leave that same child.
Child endangerment is defined in Tex. Pen. Code Sec. § 22.041(c) as any person who intentionally, knowingly, or with criminal negligence engages in conduct that places a child under 15 years old in imminent danger of physical impairment, mental impairment, bodily injury, or death – whether by action or lack of action. Criminal negligence is any gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would provide in the same circumstances to protect the child from harm or risk of harm.
In Texas law, child endangerment is automatically assumed if the person caring for the child under 15 years of age does any of the following:
- Possesses manufactures or introduces into the body of any person the drug methamphetamine while in the presence of the child
- Commits conduct considered negligence or recklessness with regard to the proximity or accessibility of methamphetamine to the child when the presence of methamphetamine is found in the child’s body
- Injects ingests, inhales, or otherwise introduces a controlled substance from Penalty Group 1 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act, such as heroin, methamphetamines, or cocaine, into his or her body while in custody, care, or control of the child
All child endangerment and child abandonment offenses are considered felonies under the Texas Penal Code and come with serious consequences. An experienced criminal defense lawyer serving Williamson County and Clay County can help build a defense against these child endangerment or abandonment charges while protecting your rights as a Texas citizen.
Penalties for Williamson County Child Endangerment Conviction
Generally, an offense of child abandonment or child endangerment is a state jail felony, though the presence of certain aggravating circumstances in child abandonment cases can increase the charge. A state jail felony is punishable by 180 days to two years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000. Child abandonment is only a state jail felony if the offender intended to return for the child. If the offender did not intend to return for the child, child abandonment is a third-degree felony punishable by two to ten years in prison and/ or a maximum fine of $10,000.
Child abandonment is a second-degree felony if the offender abandons the child in his or her care, custody, or control under circumstances a reasonable person would believe would cause the child imminent danger of mental impairment, physical impairment, bodily injury, or death. Second-degree felony convictions come with two to 20 years of prison time and/ or a maximum fine of $10,000.
Additionally, all Texas felonies come with sanctions like ineligibility for certain professional and educational opportunities or government assistance. An experienced child endangerment defense lawyer can fight to protect your rights and your future from a felony conviction for child endangerment or abandonment.
Texas Child Abandonment Reporting Laws
One of the causes of an unexpected child endangerment or child abandonment investigation or charge in Texas is the strict reporting requirements in Texas Family Code § 261.101, particularly for those who are considered a child care professional by this law. According to this statute, anyone who believes that a child is endangered or abandoned is required to report the incident to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
This requirement is a particularly high expectation for childcare professionals like teachers, nurses, doctors, and daycare employees, who may report what they consider borderline child endangerment or abandonment behavior “just in case.” This would then result in an investigation, even if the charges are unfounded. A qualified child abandonment defense lawyer can begin defending your case from the beginning of an investigation and continue protecting your rights throughout the legal process.
Law Office of Price & Wiggins, P.C. | Child Abandonment Defense Lawyer in Georgetown
If you are being investigated for or charged with a child endangerment offense or child abandonment offense in Williamson County or Clay County, contact experienced Georgetown criminal defense attorney Michael J. Price.
He will fight to ensure you are served a fair process and for the favorable that is best for you. Your first consultation is free, so call (512) 354-1880 today to schedule yours.