Child Abandonment / Endangerment
Individuals who have custody, care or control of a child in Dallas are often surprised to find they are the subject of an investigation for child endangerment or child abandonment. Law enforcement in Texas will usually begin an investigation immediately after an individual has been accused of abandoning or endangering a child.
Under Texas law, Tex. Penal Code § 22.041, child abandonment is defined as leaving a child in any place without necessary and reasonable care that any other reasonable adult would not leave a child of the same age and ability.
If you have been accused of abandoning or endangering a child in your care, custody or control, you do not necessarily have to face a conviction for the offense. The state prosecutor must first prove you committed every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be a very difficult burden of proof to establish, and any doubt in the mind of the judge or jury can result in reduction or complete dismissal of the charges against you. Therefore, it is important to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as you are investigated for abandoning or endangering your child.
Dallas Child Endangerment Lawyer
If you have been charged with abandoning a child in Dallas, or any of the surrounding areas in Texas, including Garland, Irving, Grand Prairie, Denton, Plano, McKinney, Fort Worth, Rockwall, Johnson, Wise, Ellis, Arlington, Mesquite, Carrolton, Richardson, Lewisville or Frisco, contact The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy. Attorney Richard McConathy is knowledgeable in all areas of Texas’ family violence and will make every effort to help you avoid the most serious penalties and repercussions to your alleged offense. Call The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy for a free consultation at (972) 445-4300 about your child endangerment offense.
Dallas Child Abandonment and Endangerment Offenses
An individual who has custody, care or control of the child can be charged with abandoning or endangering a child under the Texas Penal Code § 22.041(b) if they intentionally abandon a child under the age of 15 in a situation that would expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm.
Also, according to section 22.041(c) of the Texas Penal Code, an individual who has custody, care or control of a child can be charged with endangering or abandoning a child if they recklessly, knowingly, intentionally or through criminal negligence commit an act that causes a child under the age of 15 to be placed in imminent danger if physical or mental impairment, bodily injury or death.
As stated in the Texas Penal Code § 22.041(c-1), the following forms of conduct presumably place a child in imminent danger of physical or mental impairment, bodily injury or death:
- Manufacturing, possessing or using methamphetamines or meth when a child is present;
- The child has any presence of methamphetamine in their body; and/or
- A Penalty Group 1 substance is injected, ingested, inhaled or used in the presence of a child.
Child Endangerment Reporting Law in Texas
Many parents or caretakers find out they are under investigation for abandoning or endangering their child due to the strict child abuse, abandonment and endangerment reporting requirements in Texas. According to the Texas Family Code § 261.101, anyone who believes that a child has been abandoned or that the child's physical or mental health is endangered is required to report the abandonment or endangerment to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Additionally, anyone who is considered to be a child care professional has an enhanced duty to report the child endangerment or abandonment. Any professional who suspects endangerment or abandonment but does not report it within a specified period of time can be charged with a misdemeanor or state jail felony.
Texas law defines a child care professional as:
- Anyone who is an employee of a facility licensed or certified by the state is licensed or is certified by the state; and
- Has direct contact with children during the ordinary course of their occupation.
Examples of child care professionals in Texas can include:
- Reproductive service clinic or facility employees,
- Juvenile probation officers,
- Juvenile detention or correctional officers,
- Doctors, and/or
- Day care employees.
Penalties for Child Endangerment and Abandonment in Fort Worth
An individual convicted of child abandonment or endangerment can face any of the following penalties, as defined in Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code.
- An individual charged with child abandonment or endangerment can face a state jail felony conviction if they abandoned the child with the intent to eventually return for the child, which is typically punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and/or a jail term ranging from 180 days to two years.
- An individual charged with abandoning or endangering a child can face a felony of the third degree conviction if they abandoned the child without intent to return for the child, which is typically punishable by a fine up to $10,000 an/or a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years.
- An individual charged with child endangerment or abandonment can face a felony of the second degree conviction if they abandoned the child in a situation where the child was likely to suffer from mental or physical impairment, death or bodily injury. This degree of offense can typically result in a fine up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy | Fort Worth Child Abandonment Attorney
Contact The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today for a consultation about your child endangerment allegations throughout Dallas County in Texas. Richard McConathy is an experienced Dallas family violence lawyer who will make every effort to help you achieve the most desirable outcome for your particular situation. Contact The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy at (972) 445-4300 for a consultation about your alleged child abandonment offense throughout Dallas County in Texas and the surrounding counties of Denton County, Collin County and Tarrant County.