In Texas, child endangerment is defined as any act, or failure to act, that exposes a child under 15 years of age to imminent risk of bodily harm, mental or physical impairment, or death. It can be an intentional act, recklessness, or it can even be deemed criminal negligence due to an act of omission.
Parents and legal guardians have a duty to care for their children and keep them safe. All children need to be protected from any scenario that could be a potential risk to their well-being and safety. For example, you cannot leave a child alone without adequate care, in any situation or in any place. The court would look at what a “reasonable person” would do in that situation, depending on the child’s age, and then determine whether it was child endangerment. What may be reasonable to do with a 14-year-old child will not be the same as with a 4-year-old.
If you or a loved one has been charged with child endangerment in Texas, it is important to contact a knowledgeable and skilled Travis County criminal defense attorney right away.
What Constitutes Child Endangerment?
There are a number of offenses that could land you a criminal charge of child endangerment in Texas. Some of these include:
● Reckless driving with a child in the vehicle
● Letting the child be around unsecured firearms
● Failing to require the child to wear a seat belt in a vehicle
● Having sexual relations while the child can see
● Receiving a DWI with a child in the vehicle
● Producing methamphetamines in the presence of a child
● Leaving a child in the vehicle for more than five minutes if under the age of 7 and there is no one else in the car who is 14 or older
● Putting a child in a situation of imminent danger
As a reminder, the child does not need to suffer physical harm or be injured for child endangerment charges to apply. Just the act of putting a child in a potentially dangerous situation is enough to warrant charges.
Penalties for Child Endangerment in Texas
Penalties for child endangerment offenses will vary based on the nature of the crime. Some examples of possible penalties include:
● You could spend 180 days in jail and pay a fine of up to $10,000 if you leave a child under 15 years old in a vehicle, even if you have the intention of returning. If there is no intent on returning, the charge jumps to a third-degree felony, which can bring two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
● DWI arrest with a child passenger can result in two years in jail, plus a fine of up to $10,000 and the suspension of your driver’s license for 180 days.
Defending Texas Child Endangerment Charges
There are certain defenses available when you have been charged with child endangerment. This is why it is imperative to speak with a knowledgeable Travis County criminal defense attorney. At Granger and Mueller PC, we have been defending Travis County residents for nearly three decades. Contact our office at 512-474-9999 to schedule a consultation.