Endangerment and reckless endangerment are criminal charges when you risk injury or harm to someone by your careless, reckless, or negligent behavior. Criminal endangerment is typically a misdemeanor offense.

Reckless endangerment is a more serious charge, most commonly used when the endangering act is serious and risky enough that it could result in serious injury or death to another person.

Reckless endangerment is typically categorized as a felony, which can carry with it penalties of more than 1 year in prison if convicted of the offense.

This charge is often related to an assault offense, and may be a charges reduction from an assault.

Child Endangerment

Child endangerment, reckless endangerment of a child, or unlawful conduct toward a child are more serious than a standard endangerment offense towards an adult. State laws categorize child endangerment as an aggregating factor at different levels. Some states have more serious penalties for endangerment of a child under 14.

Most child endangerment charges are felony offenses.

A child endangerment charge can result from many different circumstances, including:

  • Leaving children unattended at home
  • Leaving children unattended in a car (even if you lock your keys in the car with your kids inside, you could be charged)
  • DUI or drunk driving charge with a child in the car
  • Drug possession or drug use with a child in your care
  • Any action that could be considered taking your children to a dangerous or unsafe environment, or leaving them without immediate supervision.

Some states have laws with different levels of endangerment that includes felony abuse and neglect of children. And anytime a child’s welfare is thought to be at risk, the police are going to involve social services / DSS. At a minimum, you may be looking at an investigation, and there is the considerable risk of having your children taken away temporarily or worse.

Any child endangerment charge is extremely serious, and courts are unlikely to be lenient in situations where a judge may think a minor child might continue to be at risk or subject to neglect. These criminal charges can result in loss of parental custodial rights, and can be a disaster for families.

Child Endangerment Defenses

While endangering the safety and welfare of a child sounds like a very serious incident, arrests for charges like this are often a judgment call, and police don’t always get it right. They can blow up a minor mistake, or even an incident that should never have been considered a crime at all into a serious issue.

  • Was the incident that serious and dangerous?
  • What is in the best interests of the child?
  • Was the incident so dangerous that the child would truly be better off away from a parent, and possibly put into the social services system?

These are questions that need to be asked and considered very seriously. Anytime the future of a child is on the line, the stakes are high.

Speaking to a lawyer who understands both the implications of  the criminal charges and any potential family court issues is critical.