New Jersey Child Endangerment Lawyer
If the state has charged you or someone you know with child endangerment in New Jersey, it is important that you consult with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney at Tara Breslow-Testa and Associates as soon as possible. The sooner your defense team begins working, the better your defense strategy. Attorney Tara Breslow has extensive experience successfully defending clients in child endangerment cases. She handles all cases herself and gives each case the individual attention it deserves, which is something you don’t see in most criminal defense firms. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, contact us at (732) 784-2880 or online.Child Endangerment Information Center
- What Constitutes Child Endangerment?
- Sexual Conduct Child Endangerment Charges
- Non-Sexual Conduct Child Endangerment Charges
- Defenses To Child Endangerment Charges
- Child Endangerment Criminal Defense Lawyer
New Jersey law defines child endangerment as apparent or caregiver causing physical, sexual, or emotional harm or risk of harm to a child under 18. Some examples of child endangerment are:
- Employing a child in a position injurious to their health.
- Performing an indecent act in the presence of a child.
- Sexually abusing a child.
- Using excessive physical restraint of a child.
- Abandoning a child.
- Inflicting unnecessarily severe corporal punishment.
- Negligently failing to supply adequate care or supervision.
- Willfully isolating of social contact or emotional and social deprivation.
You do not need to harm a child for the state to charge you with child endangerment. However, it must be a result of more than a simple mistake. Suppose you sent your child to daycare, and an employee performed indecent acts in front of them without your knowledge. You continued to send your child because you did not know about the crime. In this case, that does not rise to child endangerment on your part because it is a mistake.
However, you do not necessarily need to be acting intending to be charged with child endangerment. If any actions you took would reasonably place the child in a dangerous situation, a prosecutor could charge you with child endangerment.
New Jersey courts have found that sexual conduct can include hugging and kissing a child for sexual gratification, showing obscene child material, asking or instructing a child to perform sexual acts, or performing sexual acts in front of a child. In sexual conduct child endangerment charges, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant:
- Engaged in sexual conduct;
- The conduct impaired the morals of the child; and
- The defendant acted knowingly.
If the charge is one in the second degree, the prosecution must also prove that there was a duty of care for the child or assumed responsibility for the child's care. For example, suppose the individual charged with child endangerment was a passenger on the plane where the child was an unaccompanied minor. In that case, they likely could not be charged with second-degree child endangerment. However, if it was a babysitter, they could be charged with second-degree child endangerment.
Under New Jersey law, it is a second-degree crime if a parent or someone with a legal duty of care for the child abuses or neglects the child. If there is no duty of care, abusing or neglecting a child is a third-degree crime. For third-degree child endangerment charges, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant:
- Failed to provide adequate medical care, food, clothing, or shelter (i.e., necessities).
- Failed to provide supervision for the child (e.g., leaving a child unattended in a car or at home).
- Some states have specific age requirements in which a child can and cannot be left at home. While New Jersey does not have such laws, it is recommended by Safe Kids Worldwide that no child under 12 be left home alone.
- Caused a substantial risk of injury or death to a child, such as driving them while intoxicated, failing to secure a weapon, or exposing them to drugs they may ingest.
If the prosecution can prove that the defendant abused or neglected the child, then it will be a third-degree crime. If the prosecution can further prove that the defendant had a duty of care to the child, the crime will rise to that of second-degree child endangerment.
As discussed above, two degrees of child endangerment are second and third. However, if the child endangerment charges include sexual conduct, the state may impose additional penalties, such as Megan's law and parole supervision for life.
Third Degree Child Endangerment
A third-degree child endangerment conviction will result in up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Second Degree Child Endangerment
A second-degree child endangerment conviction will result in 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
A child endangerment conviction (second or third) involving sexual conduct will result in Megan's Law sex offender registration. Megan's law is a federal law that requires the release of relevant information to protect the public from sexually violent offenders. As a result, the law requires an individual convicted of sexual conduct or child endangerment to register annually with their local police department, report any address changes, and have their identity posted on the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry.
Parole Supervision For Life
If a jury convicts you of child endangerment involving sexual conduct, you may also receive parole supervision for life ("PSL"). PSL means that for a minimum of 15 years after your release from prison, you will be required to follow the rules and conditions set forth by your parole officer or return to prison. The restrictions that an offender on PSL may face include:
- Daily curfews
- Regular meetings with the parole officer
- Unannounced visits with the parole officer
- Searches of belongings on your person, car, or in your house
- A prohibition from using any computer or device to create social media accounts or access social networking services or chat rooms
- Submitting to drug or alcohol testing, medical or psychological exams, or community or residential counseling or treatment programs as directed by the parole officer
- Submitting to annual polygraph tests
Outside of proving that you did not commit the crime, there is also a statute of limitations defense for child endangerment charges. Unlike other statutes of limitations, for crimes involving children, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child turns 18 years old. Once the child turns 18, they have 5 years to bring the charges. They are barred from pressing charges after this deadline.
Additionally, an attorney may be able to get you into a pre-trial intervention if you are eligible, which would allow you to avoid prison.
Other defenses include:
- Insufficient evidence
- False testimony
- Lack of knowledge
Suspected child endangerment can have a serious impact on your future. If you are facing accusations of child abuse, an experienced criminal defense attorney can advocate for you. Indeed, an experienced criminal defense attorney can review the child endangerment laws and evaluate the best defenses that may apply to your case. Contact our criminal defense lawyers for a free consultation today if you are facing child abuse charges or child endangerment charges.
If you or someone you know has been charged with child endangerment, contact an attorney at Tara Breslow-Testa and Associates. Knowledgeable criminal defense attorney Tara Breslow-Testa lends her expertise to each client’s case and personally handles each matter from beginning to end. She can protect your rights and help get you the best possible outcome available given the circumstances of your case. Contact Tara Breslow at (732) 784-2880 or online for a free, confidential consultation.