Endangering the Welfare of a Child
Endangering the welfare of a child, including sexual contact with a minor, child abuse, and child neglect, is an extremely serious charge. Anyone convicted will face the consequences for the rest of their life. Our criminal defense attorneys at Ellis Law, understand the serious and delicate nature of such charges. If you or someone you love is facing charges of endangering the welfare of a child, we are willing and able to assist you throughout the criminal justice process.
Child Endangerment Law in New Jersey
According to New Jersey State Law, an individual is guilty of Endangering the Welfare of a Child in the following circumstances:
An individual who has a legal duty or responsibility for caring for the child engages in sexual contact with that child which would cause the child harm, impair the child’s morals, or cause harm in such a way that the child could be defined as an abused or neglected child as outlined in R.S. 9:6-1, R.S. 9:6-3 and P.L. 1974, c. 119, § 1. This is considered a Second Degree Offense. Any other person who engages in the conduct described above to a child younger than 16 is guilty of a Third Degree Offense.
Endangering the Welfare of a Child can include:
- Child pornography
- Child molestation
- Child abuse
- Child neglect
- DYFS hearings
- Sexual Assault
- Statutory Rape
- Driving while intoxicated while a minor is in the vehicle
Endangering the welfare of a child is typically considered a Second Degree crime and can result in 5 to 10 years in prison. If the individual is found guilty of a Third Degree Offense for Endangering the Welfare of a Child, they may face 3 to 5 years in prison. These charges may also include Megan’s Law registration requirements.
What Constitutes as Child Abuse?
NJ Law 9:6-1 further defines child abuse as constituting as:
- Willfully forsaking a child.
- Failing to care for and keep the control and custody of a child so that the child shall be exposed to physical or moral risk without proper and sufficient protection.
- Failing to care for and keep the control and custody of a child so that the child shall be liable to be supported and maintained at the expense of the public, or by child caring societies or private persons not legally chargeable with its or their care, custody & control.
Cruelty to a child is defined as:
- Inflicting unnecessarily severe corporal punishment upon a child.
- Inflicting upon a child unnecessary suffering or pain, either mental or physical.
- Habitually tormenting, vexing or afflicting a child.
- Any willful act of omission or commission whereby unnecessary pain and suffering, whether mental or physical, is caused or permitted to be inflicted on a child.
- Exposing a child to unnecessary hardship, fatigue or mental or physical strains that may tend to injure the health or physical or moral well-being of such child.
Endangering the Welfare of a Child Cases
- In People v Garajales (1999), the mere presence of marijuana in the defendants’ apartment alone was enough grounds for endangering, even though there was no physical harm being done directly to children.
- In People v Cruz (1991), the defendant was driving an automobile with two children while intoxicated. Once again, there was no direct harm, but endangerment was still likely.
- In People v Cenat (1997), the defendant, a mother, left her two young children unsupervised in an automobile parked on a New York City Street for two hours. Once again, no physical harm, but endangerment was still present.
- In people v Benu (1976), the defendant, a father, arranged the marriage of his 13-year-old daughter to a 17-year-old man. Clearly, what’s acceptable in some cultures is definitely considered endangerment in the eyes of U.S. law.