Endangering the Welfare of a Child in New York
Society is raising a new generation of children with adapted beliefs and principles than in the past. There are always the stories of growing up and staying out until the street lights came on, riding bikes down the neighborhood streets with your friends, and even forcing a child to manual labor in their home as punishment.
At what point today, has the standard changed so that these are could now be construed as endangering the welfare of a child. The world is no longer the utopia it was in our memories. Sending a child out to play without direct line of sight, not preparing the child with specialized safety equipment for activities and corporal punishment could now walk the legal line.
This article will help you to determine the difference between “being a kid” and where the freedom begins to roam into the law.
Am I at Risk?
Do you allow your child to ride their bike to the neighbor’s house to play? Did you know that if Billy decides not to wear his helmet or if there isn’t a reflector light, that you are at risk? The law has changed and evolved over the years to adapt and protect children from the new factors in play.
Due to increases in studies, technology and even advancements in safety, children have new standards to adhere to what qualifies as safe and ‘good clean fun.’ (McCarthy 2010). The information provided will help you to better understand the definition of the law, related offenses, possible convictions, and defenses.
This article is meant to inform you of the legal implications and DOES NOT substitute an attorney. It is always best to consult with an attorney for your individual circumstances to best protect you and your child(ren).
Federal Law dictates what is considered Child Abuse and Neglect, which are relevant associated charges, based on The Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (“CAPTA”).
CAPTA defines what is considered abuse on a federal level and set the minimum standard.
It states that any action or inaction took on behalf of a child by their parent/guardian/caretaker that can cause the child harm, be it physical or emotional. It also covers if the action/inaction places the child in harm’s way. This pertains as well to sexual abuse or exploitation of a child. (Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect in Federal Law).
What are the state guidelines?
The state guidelines must take the federal standard into consideration when expanding upon it to create their own guidelines. In exchange for abiding by and expanding on the federal standard, the states receive federal funding in the form of grants.
The money can be used to fund agencies such as CPS, Child Protection Services, public education, legal fees, and for prevention. There are many accepted uses that federal aid can be used to help combat the abuse. (The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act 2009).
What is the definition of child abuse?
The states then clarify the law by defining child abuse, neglect, or maltreatment in greater detail and who the perpetrator can be. These definitions range from expanding on physical abuse, emotional, sexual, and defines the standard that neglect is met.
Neglect is often defined as not providing provisions such as food, shelter or clothing on purpose to a child (it does not count if you are financially unable to do so- ex. homeless). There are often clauses on the distribution of illicit substances and alcohol to a minor, placing the minor in a situation that places them at high risk and exploitation.
These are the federal standards that are associated with endangering a child. They also open up pandora’s box and allow for subsequent charges to be added depending on the individual circumstances. It is important to understand the broadness or the terms and what could be considered “harmful” to a child. An attorney would be beneficial in helping to interpret this based on previous cases.
Legal Definition in NY: Article 260.10 of NYS Penal Code
In New York, there are two main aspects that define endangering a child. The first piece translates to placing a minor, anyone under the age of 18, in any situation that could cause them to harm in any way.
The law defines harm as physical, moral and emotional. The first section includes allowing the minor to work in a dangerous situation. It is very broad in the statement so that it covers many different acts and types of harm, physical or not.
- The second aspect involves who can be charged. You are accountable for the children in your care whether you are their legal guardian, the parent or a caregiver. If you are directly supervising the minor, you can be charged. In being charged, you must be guilty of intentionally placing them in harm’s way or not doing your “due diligence.”
Due diligence in it’s simplest terms means that you are not being responsible and doing something another adult in that situation would do.
- The third and final section of the law involves exceptions to being charged. You are not guilty of endangering a child if you are attempting to abandon the child if you did not intentionally cause the harm, or leaves them with another adult. This also applies to neonates, babies under a month old.
The clause around abandonment and babies has to do with Safe Haven Laws. These were designed as a “return” in a way. The child can be given to any public official like an officer, fire department, or hospital so that you are relinquishing your rights to them. You cannot be pursued or charged if you are giving the child away. This was designed for parents that cannot care for the babies and allows them to be safely given up.
The next section will elaborate on the two elements of the law that you must meet in order to be tried for Endangering of a Child. It will further define the statues and who is held accountable.
#1: Defining Endangering a Child
- If you intentionally place a child in a situation where they could be harmed
- Physically- doing bodily harm
- Emotionally- causing mental duress
iii. Morally- a situation a similar parent would not allow
- Permit Work- when it is under dangerous circumstances
- An example
- April 23, 2019. In Buffalo, NY an attorney pled guilty to the charge when he showed a 15-year-old girl explicit pictures on his phone and non-consensual sexual contact. He was sentenced to 3 years of probation, and the girl was allowed a protective order, similar to a restraining order, against him for 5 years. (Local attorney pleads guilty to charges of child endangerment 2019).
#2: Who Can be Charged
- You can be charged for this offense if you are:
- The parent
- Legal guardian
- The second clause of this section involves action or inaction
- You can be charged if you directly place them in harm’s way
- If you fail to act to prevent them from being harmed
- An example
- April 25, 2019. A man in Albion, New York is currently on trial for endangering of a minor and reckless endangerment. The child was 11 months old and suffered a head injury that later leads to death.
The adult was the caretaker at the time and he “knowingly and recklessly” caused the incident to occur. (Reeves 2019). He is accused of this after the baby suffered a head injury in the bath and medical treatment was not consulted for hours. (Desmit 2019).
Element # 3 Endangerment of a Child: corroboration
- Section 260.11 involves not being charged if the victim is mentally handicapped in any way and can not provide consent for any acts related to S. 130.16 (which defines sexual acts) and there is NO other evidence to support the claim
- This clause of the law requires that there be other proof besides
the child’s statements if they are mentally handicapped
- This is to prevent false charges from being brought by an individual
that cannot consent or understand
Element #4 Endangerment of a Child: defense
- Section 260.15 allows for religious exemptions for children being treated in ways other than western medicine or refusal of care.
- You have to be the parent or legal guardian
- Be a member of the religious group
iii. Have the child treated according to the guidelines laid out by the
- An example of this being applied will be if a family that believes in Jehova’s Witnesses refuses a blood transfusion for their child. According to their belief, patrons should not receive life fluids from another being.
They can receive fluids and medications however as an alternative and acceptable treatment. The parents could not be charged if you followed the recommendations of the physician, who would take into account your beliefs.
Once the charge of Child Endangerment is given, there are other associated charges that can be brought as well depending on the circumstances that were involved.
- Obviously, if there was drug or alcohol use, then charges related to distribution and illicit substances could be brought up as well. This also pertains if the child later perishes in relation to the events that take place. This opens up charges for murder and homicide depending on the circumstances involved.
- Another charge that is closely related is the abandonment of a child. This charge involves leaving a child under 14 with no intention to return. The child cannot be dropped off, or the parent leaves them.
This protects children from landing in situations in which their parent deserts them, leaving them stranded. The only exceptions involve Safe Haven Laws as previously explained. This is considered a class E felony.
- Unlawfully dealing with a child can be charged in the first or second degree. Grounds for this charge are related to being the parent or business owner and allowing a minor to be on site where sexual activities, illicit substances are used, or alcohol is served to them.
These activities are restricted to adults only and can land you the charge if you allow children to be present or provide them with these resources. Charges relating to sexual activities can also be raised based on the situation that affected the child.
- In any case, no matter the circumstance, it is imperative to contact an attorney. These offenses can be added and escalated, requiring a custom defense. Each situation requires careful preparation and consideration of the circumstances that are involved. The following examples each have differences and required individual representation.
Recent Cases of Child Endangerment
In the next three cases, you will see the unique charges that were brought to these three women. Each had different circumstances in their situations. All are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The individuals are provided for educational examples of recent cases and are not meant to substitute legal advice.
- In Bronx, NY, this mother turned herself in after allegedly stabbing her two children in the neck. The attack was witnessed by individuals who contacted authorities while the mother fled the scene. She later turned herself into a local prescient covered in blood.
She faces charges of: “She now faces 12 counts of assault, two counts of child abandonment, two counts of child endangerment and two counts of possessing a weapon,” (Sosa 2019). This is an ongoing investigation and details are still being released about the mother and the condition of the two children: age 6 and 2.
- The second case involves a twisted turn of events for this Alabama mother. Her goal: to catch her husband cheating. The result: she’s currently in jail. She is being charged with chemical endangerment of a child after marijuana and cocaine were found. She faces drug charges as well.
This mother did not realize the consequences of the false police report and now faces the charge as her son was in close proximity to the drugs, allegedly.
- Finally, a New Jersey mother faces charges of child endangerment after her child escaped her home at night on a secret mission for ice cream. The child was found not once, but twice, wandering the streets alone. Each time the child was rescued by bystanders and police were contacted.
The child was not hurt in any occasion, but could not provide details of her home, stating she just wanted ice cream. The first time she escaped, the police returned her to an open door residence nearby where the family was present, but the parents had left and not told them.
The family assumed she was with her mother. The second account the mother believed the child to be asleep in bed at the time.
Each of these cases presents the circumstances for 3 different mothers who are facing child endangerment for very different reasons. Unlike the Bronx mother, the AL and NJ mothers did not intentionally mean the child home. The drugs in residence are the cause of the AL mother’s demise from her plot to catch her husband.
The second mother did not even realize the first time that the child had left the residence and believed her to be at home with family and then asleep. Each individual case is different from the others and requires specific legal advice to the defendants.
Who Investigates these cases?
In many situations, these events and suspicions are reported to CPS, Child Protection Services. This agency has a specific goal of protecting the children of America. Their mission is to investigate complaints made, take action to protect children from harm, and prosecute those who break the laws related to children.
In some instances, the police are involved with the investigations. The police presence is included if there is any need for criminal charges to be brought. Often they respond as well with the social workers to provide support as they carry out their duties.
In New York, cases are reported by mandated reporters such as police, medical, teachers and other public officials. The complaint has investigated the claim and determines what actions need to be taken on behalf of the child. They can remove a child from home and place them in temporary housing until their home is deemed safe. CPS also offers services to families to help them regain their children through programs such as AA, NA and parenting classes.
Penalties for Violations
If the charge is only Child Endangerment, this is considered a Class A Misdemeanor. This means that you could face jail time up to one year for this charge alone and if you have no prior history.
The sentence can be increased if there are previous offense, other factors or infractions, and based on evidence provided to the court. Legal representation is recommended for all cases.
For abandonment of a child, it is considered a Class E felony. This means that you can face jail time up to four years for each charge with a minimum sentence of 1 year in prison. Again, legal representation is highly encouraged for each case.
Once the court issues the initial punishments that result from misdemeanor and felony charges. In general, there can be a loss of the right to vote, own firearms, and it is a marron background check when performed. Though not a violent felony, it still appears on a criminal record.
When charges arise for child endangerment, the court also considers limitation for the parent. This can include custody, visitation, legal rights and even access to the child. When a child is removed due to an endangerment, an investigation must be performed by CPS before the child can be placed back into the home.
In addition, there is the possibility to have rights revoked and lose permanent custody of the child. It is imperative to consult an attorney due to the lasting consequences that these charges have on not only yourself but your family as well.
Due to the complexity of each case, the circumstances around each situation, and the life long implications involved, legal representation is imperative. Not only are there risks for yourself to face fines, jail time, and loss of rights, but the consequences can be imposed on your family as well.
Due to the nature of child endangerment, it can cause families to be separated for unknown quantities of time. This presents many issues that arise and takes years to rectify. If you or anyone you know faces these charges, our firm can represent you to fight for you and your family.
Cases of Endangering the Welfare of a Child In the News
January 14, 2019
Marianne Benjamin-Williams was indicted and charged with:
- Attempted murder in the 2nd degree
- Assault in the 1st degree
- Strangulation in the 1st degree
- Assault in the 2nd degree
- Endangering the welfare of a child
- Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the 2nd degree
She was convicted on 1/14/19 and sentenced to fifteen years in prison for all of her charges. She was found guilty of all the charges listed above. The woman shoved a baby wipe down an infant’s throat in an attempt to strangle him in December of 2018. She blamed the incident on an infant sister to the horror of the parents. She was criminally liable as she committed the assault with the intent to kill the 2-month-old child.
September 20, 2018
Luke Park, Owner of Park Family Farms, was indicted and charged with:
- Child labor violation
- Endangering the welfare of a child
- Failure to pay unemployment contributions
He pleaded guilty to a plea deal on this date for the charges listed above. He was sentenced on 1/3/19 to 60 days in jail, 3 years of probation, and restitution of $10,500 to the family. The farm was known to have multiple minors working on the farm. They were forced to work over sixty hours a week and operating heavy machinery. Park was found guilty after the death of a 14-year-old boy who was operating a forklift for hay, found crushed by the machine. He knowingly had children working long hours and with dangerous machinery without proper training or safety equipment.
January 16, 2019
Tadarrell Jones and Shyrein Joesph were both charged with:
- 45 separate charges relating to firearms, conspiracy and illegal sales
- Several counts of Endangering the welfare of a child
The couple was a part of a larger criminal enterprise. “Operation Punch-Out” was the law enforcement’s name for the takedown of the gun trafficking ring. They were found with multiple firearms, ammunition, and assault weapons. The pair have 45 charges for their illegal activities in addition, they were discovered to have brought their underage children with them to several of the gun sales. The defendants have not yet been sentenced at this time, but face 15 years of prison. These individuals knowingly brought their children with them into a dangerous environment while they participated in illegal activities.
November 17, 2016
Daniel Melamed and his associates were charged with:
- Endangering the welfare of a child
- Unlawfully evicting tenants
He pleaded guilty to 13 charges related to fraud involving HUD, filing with a false instrument, unlawful eviction and mortgage fraud. He committed various crimes in relation to the fraud charges, but the endangering of a child was when he tore down sections of an apartment building that was still occupied by tenants, to forcibly evict them. He knew the tenants were still inside but continued with demolition. He was forced to pay restitution, served 20 days in jail and also other fines related to his fraud charges. He knowingly placed a child in harm’s way by doing the demolition and submitted false documentation to obtain loans.
June 27, 2013
David Archchambault was charged with:
- Failure to obtain necessary approvals before staging an amateur boxing match
- Reckless endangerment
- Endangering the welfare of a child
He pleaded guilty in a plea deal with the attorney general. He hosted many boxing matches without the proper approvals, license, and medical staff on site. In his charges of endangering a child, he matched a 16-year-old boy to fight a 34-year-old man. State law states he can only fight 16 or 17-year-olds. He disregarded safety rules and allowed the child to fight. He was knocked out within 15 seconds and medical staff was not on site to attend to him. He is unable to host events for a year, facing jail time if he does, and is to perform 100 hours of community service. He knowingly pitted the 16-year-old and allowed him to compete against an adult, placing his safety at risk.
“Affirmative Defense.” Business Dictionary.com. April 27, 2019. Retrieve from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/affirmative-defense.html
Child Welfare Information Gateway. “Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect in Federal Law”. Retrieved from https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/can/defining/federal/
Desmit, Scott. “Details emerge in death of infant: Couple has another child since the death.” April 27, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.thedailynewsonline.com/bdn01/details-emerge-in-death-of-infant-couple-has-another-child-since-the-death-20190426
“Local Attorney pleads guilty to child endangerment charge.” April 23, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.wkbw.com/news/local-news/local-attorney-pleads-guilty-to-child-endangerment-charge
Mathews, David. New York Dailey News. “Alabama woman busted after making phony burglary call to catch a cheating husband” April 28, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-news-woman-busted-fake-burglary-call-cheating-husband-20190429-jnk4gdyv3ja4pgawuybxtjlaty-story.html
McCarthy, Nancy. Kids and the Law. An A-Z Guide for Parents. California Bar Foundation. 2010. Retrieved from https://www.advancingjustice-alc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Kids_2011_English.pdf
Reeves, Anthony. Albion man charged following death of an 11-month-old child. April 25, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.wkbw.com/news/local-news/albion-man-charged-following-death-of-11-month-old-child
Sosa, Anabel. April 29, 2019. New York Post. “Mom turns herself in after slashing throats of two children.” Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2019/04/29/mom-turns-herself-in-after-slashing-throats-of-two-children-cops/
“The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA): Background, Programs, and Funding.” November 2009. Retrieved from https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/R40899.html#_Toc245618881
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