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Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
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Child Endangerment Charges in Orange County

In California, when adults put children in dangerous situations that could lead to serious bodily injury or death, they can be prosecuted under California Penal Code 273(a) for child endangerment. If you are a parent or ever have a child in your care, you can be charged under California PC 273(a) if you:

  • Permit a child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain.
  • Allow a child to suffer unjustifiable mental anguish.
  • Permit a child to be in a situation where their health is seriously endangered.
  • Permit a child to be in a situation where they can be seriously injured or killed.

Under California’s child endangerment law, the child does not have to actually suffer any physical injury for a person to be charged with this offense. What matters is that someone placed a child in a situation or in conditions that were “likely to produce great bodily harm or death,” according to the statute.

Examples of Child Endangerment

Here are some examples of how someone can be charged with child endangerment under California Penal Code 273(a):

  • They leave loaded firearms where a child can easily access them.
  • The person drives under the influence with a child in the vehicle.
  • A parent leaves their child alone with a “friend” with a known history of child abuse.
  • A parent leaves their child in the care of someone with a meth lab.
  • An angry father forces his 5-year-old out of his vehicle on the 405 freeway.
  • A mother leaves her cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy on the coffee table where her toddlers can access them.

In California, child endangerment is a “wobbler” offense, which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, it’s punishable by up to one year in county jail. As a felony, it’s punishable by two (2), four (4), or six (6) years in a California state prison.

Are you a parent who is facing child endangerment charges? If so, your family’s future is at stake. Contact our office today for a free consultation with an Orange County criminal defense attorney!