Biological parents, adoptive parents, legal guardians, and even caregivers have strict duties towards the children in their care. As long as parent’s child is under the age of 18, he or she must provide food, shelter and clothing for the child; they must also protect the child to the best of their abilities. In other words, it’s the parent’s legal and moral duty to keep the child safe from harm and to keep the child away from dangerous places and situations. While most parents protect their children, occasionally a parent will place their child in a dangerous situation – a situation that places the child at risk of serious bodily injury or death. In Texas, it’s against the law for adults to abandon or endanger children; this law is found under Section 22.041 of the Texas Penal Code, Abandoning or Endangering a Child.
Abandoning or Endangering a Child in Texas
Under Sec. 22.041(b) it says, “A person commits an offense if, having custody, care, or control of a child younger than 15 years, he intentionally abandons the child in any place under circumstances that expose the child to unreasonable risk of harm.” Under Sec. 22.041(c), it says that a “person commits an offense if he intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, by act or omission, engages in conduct that places a child younger than 15 years in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment. There are many ways that a parent or caregiver can endanger or abandon a child under Sections 22.041 (b) and (c). Here are some examples:
- While disciplining his five-year-old son, a father pulls the car over, forces the child out of the car and leaves the child by the side of the highway. (The child is in danger because he can be hit by a car.)
- A single mother leaves her 18-month-old child at the home of a couple for two weeks, who she knows has been convicted of child sexual abuse.
- A babysitter takes a four-year-old child to the beach. The babysitter decides to quit her job, so she leaves the four-year-old at the beach, abandoning her, and driving away without the child who cannot swim.
- A couple with three children under the age of five decide to leave the kids home alone all night so they can go out drinking until the sun rises.
An offense under Sec. 22.041 is a state jail felony, a felony of the third degree, or a felony of the second degree depending on the facts of the case. If you’re facing felony charges for abandoning or endangering a child in Plano or Dallas, contact our firm today.