Have you been charged with Abandoning or Endangering a child?
Very Important, you need to talk to our firm before interviewing with a criminal investigator or an investigator/caseworker with CPS. Your statements in these interviews may cause damage to your criminal case. Please always remember that if you are a parent in this situation, It is your right to say that you would like to consult an attorney.
Section 22.041 of the Texas Penal Code defines the word “abandon,” to leave a child anywhere without reasonable and necessary care that another adult would not leave a child of the same age and ability under no circumstances.
Additionally, according to Section 261.001(1) of the Texas Family Code, “abuse” can include the following acts or omissions:
- When an adult allows a child to be in a situation where the child is subjected to mental or emotional injury; and
- When an adult fails to make a reasonable effort to prevent the acts of another person that could result in the child’s physical injury.
The Texas Family Code also defines “neglect” under Section 261.001(4) as:
- Leaving a child in a situation where they could be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm;
- Placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that can result in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm or harmful sexual conduct to the child;
- The failure to provide a child with food, clothing or shelter necessary to sustain the child’s life; and/or
- The failure to seek medical care for a child that results in a substantial risk of death, disfigurement or bodily injury.
Grounds a Criminal Charge
As defined in Section 22.041 of the Texas Penal Code, an individual can be charged with abandoning or endangering a child if they intentionally abandon a child under the age 15 under any set of circumstances that expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm. The alleged offender must have had custody, care or control of the child.
Additionally, an individual can be charged with this offense if they intentionally, recklessly, knowingly or through criminal negligence engage in conduct that puts a child under the age of 15 in imminent danger of bodily injury, physical or mental impairment or death.
An individual is presumed to have put a child in danger of death, bodily injury or mental or physical impairment if they:
- Manufactured, possessed or used methamphetamines (meth) in front of a child;
- There is any presence of methamphetamine in the child’s body; or
- Used, inhaled, ingested or injected a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1 in front of a child.
Possible Criminal Penalties
The general penalties and punishments for a conviction for child abandonment or child endangerment are defined in Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code.
- A conviction for child abandonment or endangerment is generally punishable a state jail felony if the alleged offender abandoned the child with the intent to return for the child, which can result in a jail sentence ranging from 180 days to two years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- However, a conviction for child abandonment or endangerment is punishable as a felony of the third degree, which can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years and/or a fine up to $10,000, if the alleged offender abandoned the child without intent to return for the child.
- A conviction for child endangerment or abandonment is punishable as a felony of the second degree if the alleged offender abandoned the child in a situation that would likely cause the child bodily injury, death or mental or physical impairment. This degree of offense can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
In addition to the penalties listed above, an individual that has been charged with child endangerment or abandonment can face the following repercussions and consequences:
- Ineligibility to receive certain types of public assistance;
- Ineligibility to adopt a child or become a foster parent;
- Ineligibility be admitted into certain educational programs;
- Ineligibility to own or possess a firearm
- Inability to obtain employment and/or loss of current employment or professional licensing
Defenses to Child Endangerment Accusations
Occasionally, defenses may be available to certain situations involving child abandonment or endangerment. These defenses are not applicable to every set of circumstances, so it is important to first speak with an experienced family crimes defense lawyer to determine whether any of the following defenses may apply to the charges specifically against you. Among the most solid legal defenses to allegations of child endangerment or abandonment are:
- Lack of Intent
- Mistake of Fact
- Lack of Knowledge
Additionally, it is a defense to child endangerment if the alleged offender placed the child under the age of 15 in a situation that could cause bodily injury, death or mental or physical impairment if the situation was an organized athletic event and appropriate safety equipment and procedures were used at the event. Also, an exception to charges for this offense is if the alleged offender voluntarily placed the child with a designated emergency infant care provider.
For more information about our law firm and how we can help you defend against injury to a child charges, contact our office. Call 817-617-8058 .
We represent clients in Dallas, Fort Worth, Dallas County, Tarrant County, Denton County, and all the surrounding areas.