If you are facing a charge of child endangerment in Las Vegas or anywhere in the state of Nevada, you can't afford to rely on anything but the best possible criminal defense. The potential consequences of a conviction are simply too great to trust anyone else.
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, LLC, we have been defending our clients against child endangerment and other related charges for many years with great success. We have a track record of winning where other law firms would fail or would simply refuse to take the case.
Don't put your future at risk through inaction or by relying on an inexperienced or disreputable law firm. Martin Hart has a sterling reputation for both legal expertise and integrity that can make the difference when you step into court.
Contact us today, anytime 24/7, by calling 702-380-4278 for a free legal consultation and immediate help in building a solid defense against any child endangerment allegations you may be facing.
Child Endangerment Is Child Abuse Under Nevada Law
It's important to understand that, when facing a child endangerment charge, you are facing a child abuse charge. Under Nevada Revised Statutes Section 200.508, "child abuse" is defined as wrongfully inflicting physical pain or mental anguish on a minor (under 18) in any one of five different ways:
- Physical harm.
- Sexual abuse/exploitation.
- Mental or psychological abuse.
- Child neglect.
- Child endangerment.
To be guilty of child abuse, the abusive action must have been intentional, not accidental. But you need not have specifically planned for the act to cause harm to a child or have been aware it was illegal for a child abuse charge to hold - so long as the action itself was done "willfully."
In the case of child endangerment, no actual injury need be involved. The crime simply involves putting a child in a "dangerous situation" and doing so knowingly and willfully.
A dangerous situation is defined as one in which a child is likely to suffer serious physical and/or mental harm. There are many specific examples of dangerous situations, but here are a few of the more common ones to give you the idea:
- Letting a child play in a location with hazardous chemicals, on a construction site full of boards with nails sticking out of them, in the street, near a dangerous animal, or at the edge of a precipice - anywhere where he/she will likely suffer physical harm.
- Allowing a friend or relative babysit a child when you know that the babysitter is abusive, irresponsible, or addicted to drugs.
- Transporting a child in a car while driving DUI or in a stolen car.
- Neglecting a child while you're supposed to be watching
Possible Penalties for Child Endangerment in Nevada
Whether child endangerment is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor and how steep the sentence will vary by a case by case basis. If a child actually suffered physical injury, if it's not your first offense, or if the offense was committed directly rather than by leaving a child with someone else who endangered him/her, the penalties will tend to be more severe.
Understand the difference between "willful" child endangerment and "permissive" child endangerment. If you leave your three-year old at home alone for 24 hours straight - that's willful. But if you allow a boyfriend with a criminal record to babysit the child and he ends up hurting him/her, then that could be permissive endangerment.
For willful child endangerment but without any "substantial harm," it's a Category-B Felony, punishable by one to six years in state prison. For a repeat offense, you can get 2 to 15 years in prison.
For permissive child endangerment without substantial harm, it's a Gross Misdemeanor, punishable by one year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000. But for a second such offense, the charge rises to Category-C Felony, which is punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
If a child suffers serious bodily and/or mental harm due to the act of endangerment, it can be charged as a Category-B Felony and punished with 2 to 20 years in prison.
Additionally, immigrants are in danger of deportation or other serious immigration consequences if convicted on a child endangerment charge.
If convicted of child endangerment in Nevada, you can eventually get the record sealed in many cases. For felony level child endangerment, you have to wait 5 years from when you complete probation, while for misdemeanor child endangerment, you have to wait 2 years. But if you were never convicted because your lawyer won a dismissal, then you can immediately file to seal the record.
Defending Against a Child Endangerment Charge in Nevada
Because of the easy access to Child Protective Services, the fact you can make reports of suspected child endangerment anonymously, and the fact that pastors, priests, physicians, teachers, and counselors are obligated to contact CPS in many situations, it's very easy to get accused of child endangerment in Nevada.
CPS will contact the police for follow up if they think there may be merit to a tip they receive, but they really have no way of knowing for sure which tips are valid and which ones are false.
Thus, it's not at all uncommon for people to be falsely charged with child endangerment in Nevada courts. A misunderstanding or someone seeking revenge could easily lead to such a situation.
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, LLC, we have extensive knowledge of how to build a solid defense to all manner of child endangerment cases. Here are our most commonly used defense types:
- Lack of knowledge. It may be that the defendant could not have reasonably been expected to know, nor did he know, that he was placing the child in a dangerous situation. If so, then he cannot be convicted of child endangerment, regardless of the actual results of his actions.
- Lack of intent. If the action that caused the child to become in danger of physical or mental harm was done unintentionally, it is not a crime. It is an accident.
- Child was not in danger. Sometimes, we may be able to show that the alleged danger did not exist or that it was not a serious danger such that a child endangerment charge would be justified.
- False accusation. People often mistakenly or intentionally file false child endangerment charges in Nevada. It may be a ploy to gain child custody in a divorce case, for example.
It's important to understand how child endangerment differs from other similar charges under Nevada Law. Plus, some of these charges often come up in child endangerment cases when they are charged in place of or in addition to the endangerment charge.
- Child Neglect
It's easy to confuse child endangerment with child neglect. Both are a form of child abuse. But child neglect is more long term. For example, failing to provide a child with adequate food, shelter, clothes, and other necessities is child neglect, while letting the child sleep in a room full of broken glass shards would be child endangerment.
If child neglect results in the death of a child, then it is even possible for second degree murder charges to be filed against the neglectful parent or other legal guardian.
- Medical Maltreatment
Not providing any medical care at all could be an instance of child neglect, but choosing a ineffective or harmful treatment may constitute child abuse via medical maltreatment.
When immediate treatment is needed, it is neglect to fail to provide it, but if longer term treatment is given that is not recognized as a valid alternative by medical professionals, then it is medical maltreatment.
- DUI Child Endangerment
If someone commits DUI while a child under the age of 15 was riding with him or her in the vehicle, the penalty for the DUI will be much harsher due to the child endangerment that occurred. It becomes an aggravating factor of the DUI charge rather than a separate child endangerment charge.
- Physical Child Abuse
When battery is committed against a minor, it counts as physical child abuse. This could mean a punch, kick, forceful shove, throwing down the stairs, casting of objects at the child, or any other form of physical abuse. If the child dies from such abuse, it could be charged as first degree murder, and if he/she almost dies, it could be charged as attempted murder. But reasonable corporal punishment cannot be validly charged as physical child abuse under Nevada law.
- Shaken Baby Syndrome
A specific variety of physical child abuse that is all too common in Nevada is called "shaken baby syndrome." This occurs when someone violently shakes an infant who is crying to try to make him or her be quiet. This can result in serious physical and/or mental injury. Shaken baby syndrome can be charged as child abuse, attempted murder, or murder, depending on the details of the case.
- Abuse of an Unborn Child
It's not always clear what the results of prosecuting causing harm or death to an unborn child will be in Nevada courts. In general, a conviction is more likely with an unborn child if he/she is older and is able to move and have those movements felt by the mother.
Murder, child abuse, or manslaughter might be charged. But if the mother herself swallows chemicals to harm the child, that cannot be prosecuted under Nevada law.
- Psychological Abuse of a Child
Not all child abuse is physical. It can be mental, emotional, or otherwise psychological. But this kind of abuse is much harder to prove in a court of law.
When words, systematic "brainwashing," or unreasonable isolation result or are likely to result in serious intellectual, emotional, or social harm, then child abuse can still be charged. Refusing to provide a child an education is one example of this kind of abuse, while radicalizing a child with destructive ideologies could be another.
- Sexual Abuse/Exploitation of a Child
Sex abuse of a minor is a very serious crime in Nevada. Actually, there are a number of different criminal acts that are included under this general heading, such as rape of a minor, statutory rape, or lewdness with a child under the age of 16.
Something to note, that mutilation of female genitals is child abuse in Nevada, regardless of cultural backgrounds or of attempts to label it "circumcision." Additionally, child rape can be charged as sexual assault or child abuse in Nevada, but not both.
Finally, there are sex crimes against a child that come in the form of "exploitation" rather than direct abuse as such. For example, sex trafficking with minors and making, using, or possessing child porn are considered sexual exploitation of a child and are punished very severely under Nevada law.
Contacting a Child Endangerment Attorney Near Me
If you have been charged or fear you soon may be charged with child endangerment or a similar offense in Las Vegas, Clark County, or throughout Nevada, do not hesitate to contact us for help. We understand the kind of damage such a charge can do to your reputation and career and how severe the potential sentence could be upon a conviction.
At the Law Offices of Martin Hart, LLC, we have won numerous other child endangerment defense cases and we will know how to win your case as well! Call our Las Vegas Criminal Attorney anytime, 24/7/365 at 702-380-4278 for a free legal consultation and quick attention to your case!