Child Endangerment Defense Attorney

Child Endangerment
While many people understand that physically harming a child can be a criminal offense, they may not consider intentionally placing their child in a dangerous situation a crime. However, California Penal Code Section 273a PC states that child endangerment is a domestic violence crime that has the potential to yield felony charges.

Factors of Child Endangerment

The prosecutor has the burden of proving several factors beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a defendant of child endangerment in Southern California.

  • The defendant had no justification for inflicting pain or mental suffering on a child;
  • The defendant put the child in a situation that was likely to result in great bodily harm or even death;
  • The defendant was criminally negligent;
  • The defendant’s actions were not reasonable while disciplining the child.


You should be aware that if your child is in the vehicle when you are arrested for driving under the influence, you can also be charged with child endangerment, which will be treated as a separate count. And, if the child is under the age of 14, according to California Vehicle Code Section 23572 VC, further charges will be added, which adds to the DUI sentence and can mean mandatory jail time.

Child Endangerment Defenses

Defense attorneys frequently manage cases wherein allegations of child endangerment arise during child custody proceedings or arguments. Not only does one parent falsely accuse the other of child endangerment, but they may also coach the child to lie about the facts. In that case, a defense attorney would establish motivation for the child’s false account and show how the accusation of child endangerment was false. 

The nature of a child endangerment offense relies heavily on facts. Think about how many times reasonable parents are distracted at the wrong moment when the child gets into a potentially dangerous situation. A defense attorney, in this case, would say that there was no crime here. Another common scenario is when a new partner or another person is brought into the home. The defense attorney would show that the defendant was not criminally negligent.

Child Endangerment Defenses

Child Endangerment Conviction

In cases where there was little to no risk of great bodily harm or death, prosecutors will typically file misdemeanor child endangerment charges. A misdemeanor conviction could mean a sentence of up to six months in jail with a condition of probation to complete extensive parent counseling.

Child endangerment cases that do involve a risk of great bodily harm or death are charged as felonies, in which case, the sentence can be up to four years in prison.

California law enforcement reports every child endangerment case to the Department of Children and Family Services. DCFS will investigate the child’s welfare and can petition for the child’s removal from the home for placement in a safer setting.

An individual convicted of child endangerment can never work in places like daycares or schools, and their current professional licenses may be revoked. 

It’s critical that if you or someone you know has been arrested for child endangerment, that you contact DRE Law and consult with one of their child endangerment defense attorneys. These types of cases are multi-faceted and sensitive, so you need a professional with deep experience, someone who will peel back the layers and do what it takes to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

Darren Richie