33-year-old S.F. woman (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) was arrested on charges of credit card fraud and appeared in court for her arraignment. Already having posted $10,000 in bail, she was shocked to hear in court that her bail was going to be increased (to $50,000) and that she would not be going home that day. What was the problem? She promptly informed the judge of a serious problem. Evidently, her 3-year-old daughter had been sitting in a locked car in the nearby parking lot the entire time she was in the courtroom. When officers retrieved the child, they also found hypodermic needles filled with what law enforcement officials believe to be methamphetamines, other drug paraphernalia, and other evidence concerning further credit card fraud. Charges against her now include drug-related accusations, probation violations, and felony child endangerment.
On the credit card fraud charges alone (CA Penal Code 484e – 484j), she could find herself facing up to 3 years in state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. Child endangerment, on the other hand, could be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor in California (this is what is known as a ‘wobbler’). Misdemeanor charges could mean up to 1 year in county jail, but felony child endangerment charges are a bit more complicated. Depending on the severity of the situation, the level of endangerment, penalties could extend anywhere from 2 to 6 years in state prison.