Child Endangerment

Mother Arrested in Rohnert Park for Child Endangerment by Leaving Children in Car (CA Penal Code 273(a))

There are many ways to violate California law when it concerns young children, not the least of which is misdemeanor child endangerment.  California Penal Code 273(a) states that the crime of child endangerment, in general, happens when any person allows or causes a child to suffer in any way (mentally or physically), to be injured in any way, or to be put in a situation that could be considered dangerous.  The last of these is what 37-year-old  (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) has been accused of having done.  She allegedly left her 2 young children (ages 10 and 1) in her Honda in the parking garage of the Graton Casino in Rohnert Park.  Officers were patrolling the parking structure when they spotted the children in the back seat of her car.  The car was not running, but the keys were in the ignition and the vehicle was engaged.  When law enforcement officials asked the 10-year-old girl where her mother was, she told them that her mom had gone into the nearby casino.  Their mother was arrested after having spoken to the officers at the scene and their aunt took the children home.

The issue is that any number of things could have happened to these 2 children.  They could have met with many different fates that night as they waited for their mother, including being kidnapped, being hit by a nearby vehicle, or falling off of the parking structure.  Luckily, none of these things transpired.  Violations of CA PC 273(a) could be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or as a felony (a ‘wobbler’).

 

Woman Charged with Felony Child Endangerment and Vehicular Manslaughter in Death of Daughter (CA Penal Code 273(a) and 192(c))

Local law enforcement officials contend that 33-year-old (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) of Fremont was drunk when she crashed her car on Osgood Road and Auto Mall Parkway, killing her 4-year-old daughter who died approximately 5 days after the incident.  She was promptly arrested on charges of child endangerment (CA Penal Code 273(a)) and vehicular manslaughter (CA Penal Code 192(c)).  The other driver involved only suffered minor injuries, as did herself. A key element in this case is that her daughter was not restrained properly in the vehicle, as required.

California law is harsh both in cases of child endangerment and of vehicular manslaughter when alcohol or illegal drugs are involved.  Charges of child endangerment, for example, may be due to any number of situations, including allowing your child to be put in danger of any kind and/ or permitting them to be injured.  In this case, the danger the child was put in was being in the vehicle while her mother was driving under the influence.  She could be facing either felony or misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and may spend up to 6 years in state prison if convicted of a felony.

California vehicular manslaughter charges are serious. This particular crime is also a ‘wobbler,’ as it can be charged either as a misdemeanor or as a felony.  A felony conviction for vehicular manslaughter could end in $10,000 in fines and up to 4 years in state prison.

 

Appeals Court Draws Line Between Spanking and Child Abuse (CA Penal Code 273)

When a Santa Clara woman, found out that her 12-year-old daughter had been frequently lying to her and wasn’t doing her schoolwork, she took a wooden spatula and spanked her.  Little did she know that she would be arrested under California laws against child abuse (CA Penal Code 273).   But a Sixth District Court of Appeals judge has recently determined that there is a fine line between a parent’s right to discipline their child and child abuse.

The controversy over where discipline ends and child abuse begins is decades old.  From at least the early 1980s, public viewpoints on the subject have run toward the extreme, spanking is child abuse.  However, it seems that now, social workers and representatives of Child Protective Services will have to take into consideration the intent of the parent when deciding whether or not abuse has occurred, or whether it is simply discipline.

In this case, bruises were left on the child; (CA PC 273) states that slapping a child hard enough to leave bruises or using a belt to administer discipline to a child are both instances of abuse, not discipline.  The law is a currently a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that it may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor, carrying with it  a maximum sentence of one year for a misdemeanor count and up to 6 years for a felony count. This incident has sparked controversy anew over the rights of parents versus the rights of the child.  The Judge insisted that the circumstances of each case must be taken into account; in this matter, whether or not she intended to harm her child or to spank her.

 

Woman Charged with Felony Child Endangerment in San Mateo (CA Penal Code §273(a))

Under California law, child endangerment is considered a felony (CA Penal Code §273(a)) when the child in question has merely been placed in a dangerous situation – not only when the child has been actually harmed.  Many people every year are falsely accused of child endangerment or are harshly prosecuted beyond the bounds of reason.

This may be what happened to Alissa Charlene Anderson, a 22-year-old mother who has recently been accused of this crime.  An anonymous citizen claims to have seen a child fall out of the hatchback of Anderson’s van while it was moving.  Based on this tip, local law enforcement officials followed Anderson to her home on 82nd Street, where they proceeded to arrest her.

Felony charges of child endangerment are quite serious; in fact, they fall under the umbrella of domestic violence laws in the state of California.  Even though the child was deemed unhurt by several different medical personnel on the scene, based on the statement of the supposed eye witness, Anderson is in danger of losing not only her freedom, but also her other children who have already been taken into custody by child protective services.  The police officers involved in the case have also made mention of the fact that they believe Anderson was in possession of “dangerous narcotics,” although even they admit that the possession of dangerous drugs charge may be extreme.  Anderson faces a 2, 4, or 6 year sentence in state prison if convicted, leaving her children without a mother for that time period and forcing them into the foster care system.