New Jersey child endangerment charges are serious felonies. These crimes carry lengthy prison sentences & will leave you with a criminal record. You also run the risk of losing your children.
It is very possible that you may be falsely accused. Oftentimes, these accusations arise in divorce actions or during custody battles. Your ex-spouse may leverage their cause by filing a false report. By law, the complaint must be investigated and it could take months and years to clear your name.
This article will help you learn about your rights & options.
What is the definition of an unfit parent in New Jersey?
If the conditions in your home are such that your child is at risk of mental, physical, or emotional danger you may be declared an unfit parent.
The following are some of the home conditions that will be considered:
- A parent’s chemical dependency/substance abuse
- Criminality in the household
- A parent’s mental illness/Mental
- Poor judgement (driving under the influence w/your child in the car)
What are some examples of child endangerment?
The most common examples of reckless endangerment of a child include:
- Driving under the influence (alcohol/drugs) with your child in the car;
- Leaving your child in your car during a freezing winter day while you go shopping;
- Being involved in illegal activity (prostitution) while your child is in the room.
- Actions or situations that endanger your child (drug dealing)
Child endangerment laws are often very broadly applied, and any number of acts can lead to an arrest.
Child Endangerment convictions stay on your record for years
If you plead guilty or are found guilty of a Child Endangerment, you face prison, fines, and you will get a criminal record.
Can I get it expunged?
Your ability to get this type of conviction expunged depends on the type of felony on your record.
For example, if the conviction is for acts that involved sexual conduct with a minor, your chances of an expungement are slim.
If you were charged with child endangerment in NJ and ended up pleading guilty to an amended charge, your chances are better of getting an expungement.
If you are under investigation for child endangerment in NJ, it is extremely important to remain silent.
If you’ve been arrested, you must also remain silent.
DO NOT answer police questions.
Everything you say can & will be used against you.
Ask for a lawyer & keep quiet!
Why did I get charged with domestic violence & child endangerment?
Sometimes if the state believes there was violence among family members in the home and a child was just present, you may be charged with both domestic violence & child endangerment.
It doesn’t matter that you did not physically touch your child to be charged with child endangerment.
If your child witnessed or heard violent acts or words, you will get a second charge for domestic violence.
Will DYFS become involve if I am charged with child endangerment?
DYFS, now called the Department of Child Protection and Permanency, or DCPP, may become involved with your family.
If they do, you should consult with us.
It is important to retain counsel to advise you and protect your rights if DFYS shows up knocking on your door.
Please visit our NJ DYFS page for more information.
We’ve also included a 16-page DYFS handbook to help you understand why they got involved.
Can I lose my children if convicted of child endangerment?
It is a strong possibility.
Before the State can take your child away and place him/her in a foster home, they have to prove that you are an unfit parent. (See above)
If you have a lengthy criminal record & your behavior was extreme enough to warrant it, the State will attempt to remove your parental rights.
What if what I was accused of was not done on purpose?
You may have a defense.
The law gives you a defense to child endangerment charges if your actions were not done on purpose.
This is called an Unwillful act.
Contact us if you have been charged with child endangerment so we can hear your side of the story.
Each case is different and the facts of your case may provide a defense to the charge.
All of our consultations are FREE & confidential.
I got a DWI with my kid in the car. Is this child endangerment?
In New Jersey, a DWI is a traffic ticket.
However, driving while intoxicated (alcohol/drugs) with your child is a separate criminal offense.
In the majority of cases, you will be charged with child endangerment.
In addition, there is a separate misdemeanor charge for driving while intoxicated with a child in your vehicle.
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.15(b), you could face up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in jail.
What are the laws of Endangerment to a Child in NJ?
(1) Any person having a legal duty for the care of a child or who has assumed responsibility for the care of a child who engages in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child is guilty of a crime of the second degree. Any other person who engages in conduct or who causes harm as described in this paragraph to a child is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
(2)Any person having a legal duty for the care of a child or who has assumed responsibility for the care of a child who causes the child harm that would make the child an abused or neglected child as defined in R.S.9:6-1, R.S.9:6-3 and P.L.1974, c.119, s.1 (C.9:6-8.21) is guilty of a crime of the second degree. Any other person who engages in conduct or who causes harm as described in this paragraph to a child is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
NJSA 2C:24-4 (b)
(1) As used in this subsection:
“Child” means any person under 18 years of age.
“Distribute” means to sell, or to manufacture, give, provide, lend, trade, mail, deliver, publish, circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, display, share, advertise, offer, or make available via the Internet or by any other means, whether for pecuniary gain or not. The term also includes an agreement or attempt to distribute.
“File-sharing program” means a computer program, application, software or operating system that allows the user of a computer on which such program, application, software or operating system is installed to designate files as available for searching by and copying to one or more other computers, to transmit such designated files directly to one or more other computers, and to request the transmission of such designated files directly from one or more other computers. The term “file-sharing program” includes but is not limited to a computer program, application or software that enables a computer user to participate in a peer-to-peer network.
“Internet” means the international computer network of both federal and non-federal interoperable packet switched data networks.
“Item depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child” means a photograph, film, video, an electronic, electromagnetic or digital recording, an image stored or maintained in a computer program or file or in a portion of a file, or any other reproduction or reconstruction which depicts a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act.
“Peer-to-peer network” means a connection of computer systems through which files are shared directly between the systems on a network without the need of a central server.
What are prohibited sexual acts?
“Prohibited sexual act” means:
- Sexual intercourse; or
- Anal intercourse; or
- Masturbation; or
- Bestiality; or
- Sadism; or
- Masochism; or
- Fellatio; or
- Cunnilingus; or
Nudity, if depicted for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification of any person who may view such depiction; or
Any act of sexual penetration or sexual contact as defined in N.J.S.2C:14-1.
“Reproduction” means, but is not limited to, computer-generated images.
First-Degree Child Endangerment
A person commits a crime of the first-degree if he causes or permits a child to engage in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act if the person knows, has reason to know or intends that the prohibited act may be photographed, filmed, reproduced, or reconstructed in any manner, including on the Internet, or may be part of an exhibition or performance.
Second-Degree Child Endangerment
A person commits a crime of the second-degree if he photographs or films a child in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act or who uses any device, including a computer, to reproduce or reconstruct the image of a child in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act.
A person commits a crime of the second-degree if, by any means, including but not limited to the Internet, he:
(i) knowingly distributes an item depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child;
(ii) knowingly possesses an item depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child with the intent to distribute that item; or
(iii) knowingly stores or maintains an item depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child using a file-sharing program which is designated as available for searching by or copying to one or more other computers.
Third-Degree Child Endangerment
A person commits a crime of the third-degree if he knowingly possesses, knowingly views, or knowingly has under his control, through any means, including the Internet, an item depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child.