What constitutes child endangerment?

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What constitutes child endangerment?

My ex-wife took my 13 year-old son to the beach by herself. While they were on the boardwalk, she became intoxicated and was detained by police for public intoxication. My son had no one to take care of him and the police called me to come get him. The case is being forwarded to the district attorney. Could this result in a child endangerment case?

Asked on August 6, 2010 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Under California Penal Code section 273a, the crime of child endangerment occurs when an individual either (1) places a child in a dangerous situation, or (2) allows a child to be placed in a dangerous situation without taking steps to protect the child.   

Under the California code no actual injury has to occur to the child.  The mere act of placing the child in a dangerous situation is enough.  Because of this, many situations that seem to be innocuous can place a person in the courtroom.  Also, the statute allows the prosecutors to charge the crime as a misdemeanor OR a felony, depending on the circumstances.  I would have her seek legal help as soon as she can.  Good luck.


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