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California Penal Code 273a Child Endangerment

California Penal Code 273a Child Endangerment

According to California Penal Code 273a, child endangerment is crime that involves putting a child into a dangerous situation or allowing another person to do so, without taking reasonable steps to protect him from injury and harm.

Elements of California Penal Code 273a Child Endangerment

Prosecutor must establish the following elements to prove that defendant committed child endangerment.

  • Defendant willfully imposed unjustifiable mental suffering or physical pain on a child, caused such suffering or pain or allowed such suffering or pain to occur when the child was in his custody.
  • Defendant acted in a way that was likely to produce great bodily injury or death upon a child
  • Defendant was criminally negligent
  • Defendant did not act reasonably while disciplining the child.

Willfully means on purpose or willingly. It does not necessarily mean that defendant specifically had intention to cause harm or violate the law

Unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering is pain or suffering which is not reasonably necessary or excessive under the circumstances.

Criminal negligence is more than just inattention or carelessness. Defendant can be found to be criminally negligent if:

  • He acted in a reckless way that created a high risk of great bodily injury or death upon a child
  • A reasonable person would have known that acting that way would probably and normally result in harm to a child.

Great bodily injury is a significant or substantial injury. Jury determines on an individual case-by-case basis the existence of great bodily injury. It is important to mention that unlike child abuse crime child endangerment crime doesn’t require that a child to actually suffer an injury. Any unjustifiable mental or physical harm to a child can result in a child endangerment charge.

Examples of Child Endangerment

Some examples of conduct including in the child endangerment

  • Negligently leaving a child with a person who has a history of abusive behavior
  • Leaving dangerous firearms unlocked and loaded within a child’s reach
  • Failing to get medical treatment for an injured or sick child
  • Involving a child in drugs transportation, manufacture or sale
  • Driving under the influence

Penalties for California Child Endangerment

The punishment for violation of PC 273 mainly depends on whether or not the defendant’s acts created a risk of great bodily harm or death to the child.

Misdemeanor Penalties for California Child Endangerment

Misdemeanor penalties for California Child Endangerment may include:

  • Up to 12 months in a county jai
  • A fine up to $1,000
  • Minimum 4 years of misdemeanor probation
  • Completion of a 12-month Child abuser treatment program
  • Possible issuance of a protective order to keep the defendant away from the child

Felony Penalties for California Child Endangerment

Felony penalties for child endangerment can include:

  • Two, four or six years in a state prison
  •  A fine up to $10,000
  • Minimum 4 years of formal probation 
  • Completion of a 12-month Child abuser treatment program
  • Possible issuance of a protective order to keep the defendant away from the child
  • A “strike” on defendant’s record under California’s “Three Strikes” law

Sentencing Enhancement for Causing Great Bodily Injury in Child Endangerment Cases

Sentencing Enhancements for causing great bodily injury in California child endangerment cases

  • Defendant will receive an additional and consecutive three to six years in prison in case he personally and actually caused great bodily injury on the  child, or
  • Defendant will receive an additional and consecutive four years in prison in case the child died as a result of the defendant’s criminal negligence

Glendale Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are a loved one has been charged with violating California Penal Code 273a, child endangerment contact our Glendale criminal defense lawyer today at (310) 943-1171 for a free consultation.

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