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Custody Rights for People Charged With Child Endangerment?

Gene Kirzhner Nov. 27, 2017

Divorces can get messy, especially if children are involved. Unless you have a good relationship with your soon to be ex, you’ll most likely run into custody issues. A child endangerment charge may only make this worse. Child endangerment could happen for many reasons and doesn’t mean you’re a terrible parent. Accidents happen sometimes, and that can, unfortunately, leave you with a child endangerment charge. You may worry about how this affects the divorce proceedings and public opinion on the matter. We’ll discuss the answers to these questions and more below.

What Is Child Endangerment?

Child endangerment occurs when a parent or another adult places a child in a situation that could cause death, physical injury, or mental harm. This falls into two groups of endangerment, act, and omission. This first occurs when a parent locks a child in a car during a hot day for example. The child could get heatstroke, or die if they’re left in the car too long. Another form occurs when a parent fails to do something they must do. This happens if a parent knows a child needs regular medication for an illness but fails to give it to the child for example. The parent might face child endangerment charges if they failed to give the medication on purpose or by accident. Either form could receive felony or misdemeanor charges.

Felony versus Misdemeanor Charges

Both come with the potential for heavy penalties. The difference is typically based on the severity of the situation. If the child receives serious injuries or was placed in a very dangerous situation, a felony charge might be brought. A misdemeanor child endangerment charge could bring up to a year in prison. A felony, on the other hand, could get up to 10 years. In Rhode Island a person caught driving under the influence with a child may serve a year in prison and have their license revoked. Other possible penalties include probation, or fines ranging from $1000 to $10,000 and more. Along with all this, the parent usually needs to take an extensive parenting course. Failure to finish the course could cause revocation of probation and a shift in any custody agreement.

Will the Judge Treat Child Endangerment Leniently During Divorce?

Most likely not unfortunately for the accused. Anything that could make you seem less stable and a potential risk to the child will affect custody. Each case is different, however, and the judge will look at the facts of your case. The more evidence against you the worse it will e. Child protective services may come to your home to make sure everything’s ok after a child endangerment charge. They’ll check on your home to ensure it’s a safe environment. Their report could help or harm your case depending on what they conclude. Each judge may take a different view as well. Some may choose leniency in the situation, but others may take a harsher stance.

The judge may take into account whether you’re charged with a felony or misdemeanor. Obviously, a felony charge will carry greater weight with the judge. The judge could decide to modify custody if a custody agreement exists, or deny custody altogether. The more severe the charge, the more impact it will have on the case. The more evidence against you, the more likely the judge is to rule against you.

What’s Public Opinion on Child Endangerment?

The public tends to dislike anyone that’s negligent with or harms children. Again a lot of this depends on the specific situation, but it never looks good. Exposing children to drugs, driving while intoxicated with a child, or depriving them of necessary medication tends to upset people. It can take many forms other than those listed above, but public opinion won’t change much. If the child gets any physical injuries that only increases negative opinions.

People will most likely see you as an unfit parent. They may look at you differently than they used to. Friends might not come around as often, and could standby your ex. You may actually lose friends and status in the community. Potential employers may also frown upon hiring someone with a child endangerment charge. A lot depends on the incident, but expect your life to change somewhat.

What Does It All Mean?

The child endangerment charge could have serious consequences. It could negatively affect divorce proceedings, as well as your life. Your friends and family may look at you differently. You could wind up in jail in the worst case scenario. There’s potential for it to affect your custody during divorce. You may receive less custody or lose custody altogether. It’s important to have a good custody lawyer on your side. A custody lawyer will fight to ensure you keep some form of custody. They know exactly what to do to give you the best chance to keep some form of visitation. To learn more about custody attorneys click here.