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Defining Texas Laws: Child Endangerment

Child endangerment is the broad title for a crime that involves putting a child in a situation that could be harmful to his or her health and well-being. According to the Texas Penal Code, there are two separate offenses that can be prosecuted as child endangerment. One is covered by abandonment law and the other is defined by endangerment law. In both situations, Texas authorities have the right to arrest anyone who has committed one of these acts against a child that is 15 or under.

Abandonment Law

Abandonment law governs that it is illegal to leave a child any place without providing reasonable care for that child. The Texas Penal Code maintains that this law is in place unless there is a reason why any similarly situated adults would leave the child of this age and ability in the circumstances. For example, leaving a child to go and get professional help or leaving a child momentarily to locate his or her parents may be considered rational and would not be prosecuted as child endangerment.

Endangerment Law

Coming along a lost child and driving by, however, would be considered child endangerment. It is considered a crime to intentionally abandon a child under any circumstances which would expose that child to an unreasonable risk of harm.

If a person delivers an injured child to an emergency infant care provider, then this is considered acceptable behavior and will not be prosecuted as abandonment,

As well, the Texas Penal Code declares that it is easy to put a child in danger under endangerment law. This is any act that could post the risk of death, bodily harm, or physical and mental impairment to a child 15 or under. This includes any conduct that is intentional and reckless, such as dangerous driving or asking children to walk along a high height without a guard rail. As well, any criminally negligent behavior that is carried out by either omission or act can be considered endangerment violations.

A person can also be charged with endangering a child if the child is not wearing a seatbelt during an automobile accident. Because the act is a felony, this means that those who fail to make sure that their loved ones are wearing a seatbelt can be sent to jail for up to two years for the offense.

It is also considered child endangerment if an adult produces methamphetamines in the presence of a child or if an adult allows a child to ingest methamphetamines and the young one then tests positive for the drug when assessed. Child endangerment in Texas is considered an illegal act that is a felony. In some circumstances, it will be prosecuted as a state jail felony and the offender will need to serve up to 2 years in prison. If the child endangerment merits a second degree felony offense, then the offender can be sentenced to serve up to 20 years in prison.

In both instances, an offender may be required to pay up to $10,000 in fines. If the children are the offender's own offspring, then chances are that he or she will lose custody of them. This may mean that the children will be put in the foster care system but in some circumstances they may also be placed in another family member's care. In some circumstances, a child endangerment felony can be modified when the offender agrees to cooperate fully with the investigation.

Contact a Plano criminal defense attorney today if you need more information about child endangerment or if you have been charged with the crime and are looking for a reliable defense attorney.