West Chester

Endangering the Welfare of a Child Attorney

As a parent or someone who works with children, you do the best you can on any given day. Taking care of one child, let alone several is always hard. One mistake could put a child’s health and safety at risk. And as a result, you could face serious legal consequences. One lapse in judgment could lead to allegations of child abuse or endangering the welfare of a child.

When someone accuses you of criminal conduct concerning your interactions with a child, the best way to protect yourself is to call an endangering the welfare of a child lawyer. Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm, has years of experience and an impressive record defending against violent crimes and child abuse-related offenses in and around Chester County, PA. He understands you are frightened and concerned about your professional reputation. He will defend against these accusations and pursue a dismissal or acquittal in your case. Speak with a lawyer dedicated to your defense. Call (610) 436-1410 to set up a free, initial consultation.

Pennsylvania Endangering the Welfare of a Child Law

Under 18 PA Cons Stat §4304, a prosecutor can charge you with endangering the welfare of a child if:

  • You are a parent, guardian, or other person supervising a child under 18 years old, or an individual who employs or supervises such person, and you knowingly violate your duty of care, protection, or support; or
  • You, in an official capacity, prevent or interfere with making a report of suspected child abuse to child protective services.

Who Can Prosecutors Charge with Endangering the Welfare of a Child?

Any adult with a certain relationship or connection to a child can be charged, including parents, legal guardians, and relatives.

A prosecutor will consider you someone who supervises the welfare of a child if you are not a parent or guardian, but are someone who provides the child with education or training. Or, you may be someone responsible for controlling the child. This group encompasses teachers, classroom aides, tutors, coaches, nannies, au pairs, and babysitters.

If you believe you were never responsible for the child’s health and safety, contact an attorney about endangering the welfare of a child criminal defenses. If you can establish that the law does not apply to you due to a lack of relationship or connection, then you may be able to have the charges dropped or dismissed.

Examples of Endangering the Welfare of a Child in PA

  • Riding an ATV, dirt bike, or other off-road vehicles with your child without the proper safety equipment, such as a helmet and restraint system.
  • Driving a vehicle with a child who is not using the proper child safety seat or seat belt.
  • Driving while impaired with a child in the vehicle.
  • Possessing, using, or manufacturing controlled substances around a child.
  • Leaving prescription medications and other dangerous substances in a child’s reach.
  • Serving alcohol to a minor.
  • Giving drugs to a minor.
  • Becoming intoxicated while caring for a child.
  • Leaving a child unsupervised for an inappropriate duration.
  • Leaving a child in a very hot or cold room without food or water for over 24 hours.
  • Leaving a child unsupervised in a hot vehicle.
  • Failing to provide proper care or seek medical care for an ill child.
  • Squalid living conditions, including infestations, lack of running water, or lack of heat in the winter.
  • Arguing or fighting with another adult and accidentally hurting a child.

Penalties for Endangering the Welfare of a Child

Endangering the welfare of a child in Pennsylvania is typically a first-degree misdemeanor. This offense is punishable by up to five years in prison and fines reaching $10,000.

If you engaged in a course of conduct that endangered the welfare of a child or created a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death, a prosecutor could charge you with a third-degree felony. This is punishable by up to seven years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Furthermore, if you engaged in both a course of conduct that endangered the welfare of a child as well as created a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death, a prosecutor will charge you with a second-degree felony. This is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.

If at the time of the offense, the child was under 6 years old, the offense will increase by one grade. A first-degree misdemeanor becomes a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony becomes a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony becomes a first-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.

Additional Consequences of Conviction

If a judge or jury convicts you of endangering the life of a child, Pennsylvania law requires the court to consider whether you should undergo counseling.

If you are a parent, stepparent, or lawful guardian, child protective services will investigate you. Your children may be removed from your home until the allegations are cleared up, or you make certain changes. In extreme cases, you may lose custody of your children for an extended period.

If you work with children, you can expect to lose any professional licenses you carry. This would make you unable to work in that position or with children again.

The only way to prevent the harsh sentence and collateral consequences of a conviction is to fight. Work with an endangering the welfare of a child attorney as soon as you know of the allegations. It is never too early to retain a lawyer to protect your rights.

Endangering the Welfare of a Child Defenses

Defending against a charge of endangering the welfare of a child can be challenging, but it is not impossible. By working with attorney Skinner right away, you have a better chance of getting the case dismissed, exonerating yourself at trial, or mitigating the consequences of a potential conviction.

Potential defenses to an endangering the welfare of a child charge include:

  • Lack of necessary relationship with the child
  • Child was never in imminent danger
  • False accusations by someone with an ulterior motive
  • Mistake of identity
  • A misunderstanding or misconception of what took place
  • Lack of sufficient evidence
  • Unconstitutional search and seizure
  • Delivery of a newborn to a safe haven

An Endangering the Welfare of a Child Lawyer

If someone accuses you of hurting a child or putting a child in harm’s way, contact Skinner Law Firm today. Do not talk with the police, a prosecutor, or a social worker until you have conferred with an experienced attorney about the accusations against you. With attorney Skinner’s help, you may be able to avoid criminal charges altogether by clearing up a misunderstanding or false accusation. If a prosecutor pursues charges in West Chester, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County, we will develop a strong defense and strive for a dismissal or acquittal.

Contact Skinner Law Firm online or call (610) 436-1410 to schedule a free consultation.

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