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Child Endangerment Laws in California - Penal Code 273a

The Crime of Child Endangerment in California - PC 273a

Penal Code 273a PC – California Child Endangerment Law
Penal Code 273a PC makes it a crime to wilfully expose a child to unjustifiable pain, suffering, or danger.

The criminal charge of child endangerment is covered under California Penal Code 273a. In Los Angeles County, child endangerment charges are often related to a domestic violence case.

In basic terms, whenever an individual endangers the well being or safety of a child, they could be charged with child endangerment.

This could occur by parents neglecting their child by themselves for an extended period of time. It could also occur when a parent brings their child into a situation where drugs are laying around within reasonable reach of the child.

The act does not have to cause direct physical harm, but just places the child in a dangerous situation where they could be harmed.

This criminal offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony case. The Los Angeles prosecutor has the final authority whether they will charge a defendant with misdemeanor or felony child endangerment case.

Typically, if your conduct put the child at great risk of bodily harm, the case will be filed as a felony crime.

The child does not have to sustain actual injuries to be charged with child endangerment. California Penal Code Section 278 defines the crime of child abduction.

If you are under criminal investigation for child endangerment or already charged, you need to immediately consult with a Los Angeles child endangerment defense lawyer at our law firm to review all the specific details and explore legal options. 

California Penal Code 273(a) - Child Endangerment 

In our five decades of criminal defense experience, we have learned that child endangerment charges are sometimes filed in connection with a domestic violence incident.

In Los Angeles, the criminal offense of child endangerment can be filed when a defendant: 

  • Willfully permits or causes a child to be placed in a dangerous situation;
  • Permits or causes a child to suffer unreasonable physical pain or mental suffering;
  • Willfully permits or causes a child under their care to be injured.

In addition, when Los Angeles police respond to a domestic violence call, they may find evidence of a child endangerment offense during their investigation.

One example could include if they discover dangerous weapons, such as a loaded gun or knife, within reach of their child. Another example could include the parents failing to provide medical treatment to their very sick or injured child. 

If so, they will typically refer these cases to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCSF).

Their agents will perform a thorough investigation related to the welfare of the child. If they find sufficient cause, they can file a petition for removal of the child from the home to safer environment.

Legal Penalties for a Child Endangerment Conviction

Every child endangerment case in Los Angeles has its own set of unique circumstances and evidence.

If the circumstances of your child endangerment case involve the risk of great bodily harm, or even death of the child, the prosecutor can file the case as a misdemeanor or felony offense. If convicted, you could face the following penalties:

  • Misdemeanor child endangerment – up to one year sentence in a Los Angeles County jail,
  • Felony child endangerment – up to a six year sentence in a California state prison.

Legal Defenses against a Child Endangerment Case

As former LA County prosecutors, we fully understand how child endangerment cases are investigated and prosecuted.

An experienced Los Angeles child endangerment attorney at our law firm can use a variety of legal defenses for our clients, including:

  • The accusations are false,
  • You were acting within your legal rights to discipline your child,
  • The child was not placed in danger intentionally,
  • You were not the person responsible for the child,
  • The allegations are being used during a contested child custody case,
  • One parent coached the child to provide false information.

A child endangerment case is very fact specific. Our lawyers may be able to make an argument that every reasonable parent has a momentary lapse of attending to their child during which time they were placed in a dangerous situation.

In this type of situation, our criminal attorneys can argue no crime was committed because your conduct was neither intentional nor criminally negligent.

Call a Los Angeles Child Endangerment Attorney

Once you learn you are under criminal investigation for endangering your child, retaining an experienced and aggressive Los Angeles child endangerment lawyer is most important decision you can make.

Our extensive background in criminal defense cases and understanding of California domestic violence and child endangerment laws helps us build an effective legal defense strategy.

Call our criminal defense law firm at 877-781-1570 to learn how we can help you.

Related Pages: Child Abuse | Spousal Abuse | Criminal Threats

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