Children aren’t yet ready to defend themselves and make decisions regarding their safety, so laws worldwide usually provide them with extra protection. The state of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas make no exception, so the people in charge of taking care of children, such as their parents and caregivers, are required by law to ensure they’re always safe and secure. If you’re in Nevada and face child endangerment allegations, it’s important to consult with a lawyer who specializes in child endangerment laws to see what your options are.
What Is Considered Child Endangerment in Nevada?
Nevada state laws define child endangerment as intentionally placing a child in a situation where they may suffer physical or psychological harm or one that potentially jeopardizes the child’s safety. While there are many potential situations that would fall under these categories, some common examples of actions by parents or caregivers that can be considered child endangerment are:
- Failing to provide a child with the necessary medical care if something happens to them.
- Leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, especially in hot or cold temperatures.
- Leaving a child unattended in a potentially dangerous environment, such as a house with no heat or in the presence of dangerous animals.
- Exposing a child to drugs or equipment used to take drugs.
- Leaving an unsecured firearm in the presence of a child or where they may find it.
- Leaving a child with a third party that you know may be an abuser.
- Driving under the influence with a child in the car.
- Committing a crime in the child’s presence.
- Allowing a child to play in a potentially hazardous or dangerous area.
What Are the Penalties for Child Endangerment in Nevada?
The penalties for parents or caregivers who are found guilty of committing child endangerment can vary depending on the particularities of each case. They typically range from a favorable plea bargain or case dismissal to time in the Nevada State Prison. Some potential penalties for child endangerment in Nevada are:
- Criminal penalties: Conviction for child endangerment in the state of Nevada can result in a prison sentence of up to six years, or up to 20 if the child suffered physical and mental harm, and a fine that can reach $10,000. The exact length of the sentence and fine amount depend on the specific circumstances of each situation.
- Loss of custody or visitation privileges: Besides the potential fine and jail time, parents and caregivers who are found guilty of child endangerment may also lose custody or visitation rights. Depending on each situation, the child’s custody may then be given to the other parent, a relative, or a legal guardian.
What Are the Factors That Decide the Penalties for Child Endangerment in Nevada?
These are some of the main factors that judges typically use to decide an appropriate penalty for individuals who are found guilty of child endangerment:
- Any history of child endangerment by the defendant: Any prior situations in which the defendant was found guilty of putting a child in danger or abusing them can result in a much harsher penalty. Having a criminal history in general can lead to a more severe penalty.
- The amount of harm that the child suffered as a result: Another major factor is whether or not the child was physically or emotionally hurt as a result of the endangerment. Any physical or emotional damage done to the child is likely to lead to a more severe penalty.
- The defendant’s intent or lack thereof: Child endangerment can be accidental or intentional. The latter is usually subject to more severe penalties.
- The child’s age: The younger a child is, the more vulnerable they’re considered to be. Placing younger children at risk of harm can lead to more severe penalties than doing so with older children.
What Are Some Effective Ways To Defend Against Child Endangerment Accusations?
The most effective course of action when defending against child endangerment accusations greatly depends on the particularities of each case. Due to the complexity and seriousness of this matter, it’s highly recommended that you contact an attorney with experience in these situations, such as those at De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers. The best defense strategy depends on the individual situation.
Lack of Intention
If the parent or caregiver was certain that the child was safe, they may escape the child endangerment charges. Unless the prosecution proves otherwise, showing that you had no idea that the child was in a potentially dangerous situation can help get the case dismissed. This doesn’t apply to situations where the parent or caregiver places the child in a situation that’s obviously dangerous, regardless of their intentions.
Being Wrongly Accused
There are all kinds of situations where child endangerment accusations are false, such as those where former spouses or even unruly children take revenge by making up such claims. You may escape the charges if the defense attorney can convince the judge that your accuser lacks credibility. Also, medical professionals can analyze the child and conclude that the defendant isn’t responsible for the child’s wounds, such as in situations when the harm is self-inflicted.
Lack of Foreseeable Harm
Since the premise of child endangerment laws is a child’s parent or caregiver putting a child under their custody in a dangerous situation, another form of defense is proving the lack of foreseeable harm. In other words, if the child has suffered physical or emotional pain and suffering through an unforeseen event, despite not being placed in a potentially dangerous situation, the person or people responsible for their safety shouldn’t be facing any charges. It’s usually up to the defense team to prove that the child was in a space that wasn’t reasonably and obviously dangerous.
Child endangerment accusations are very serious and can have a major impact on your life and well-being. If you’ve been accused of child endangerment and want the charges either reduced or dismissed, contact us at De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers. Our criminal defense attorneys will discuss the particularities of your case with you and formulate an effective course of action.