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PC 273a(a), Child Endangerment

Child endangerment is aggressively prosecuted in San Diego County and the State of California. It is important to distinguish Child Endangerment from Child Abuse, PC 273d. Under Penal Code § 273a(a) PC, Child Endangerment means intentionally placing a child under 18 in a situation that endangers his or her health and safety. This may include exposing a child to unjustifiable pain, danger, or suffering. PC 273a(a) does not require the child to have actually suffered physical harm, only the possibility of harm due to unreasonable risk. PC 273a(a) can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. If charged as a felony, the punishment can be up to six years in state prison. Child Endangerment can also be charged as a misdemeanor, PC 273a(b). Additional consequences of a child endangerment conviction may include a protective order, child abuse treatment or counseling classes, fines, and probation.

It is also important to understand that PC 273a(a) charges apply to parents as well as anyone else that places a child under 18 in danger, and they have the minor in their care.

Child Endangerment can be charged in any of the following circumstances:

  • Willfully cause or permit a minor to be placed in a dangerous situation;
  • Cause or permit a minor to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering; or
  • Willfully cause or permit a child to be injured.

It is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney when faced with child endangerment charges. They will understand the potential defenses to your case. These may include that the child endangerment was not intentional; the charges are false; legal disciplining the child; or mistaken identity, meaning someone else was responsible. This list is not exhaustive and there may be other defenses that are applicable to your case.

If you or someone you know has been charged or is under investigation for child endangerment, contact Kern Law, APC, today to schedule a free consultation.