Child Abandonment / Endangerment

Individuals who have custody, care, or control of a child in Denton County are often surprised to find they are the subject of an investigation for child abandonment or endangerment. Law enforcement in Texas will usually begin an investigation immediately after an individual has been accused of abandoning or endangering a child.

Under Texas law, Tex. Penal Code § 22.041, child abandonment is defined as leaving a child in any place without necessary and reasonable care that any other reasonable adult would not leave a child of the same age and ability.

If you have been accused of child abandonment or endangerment in your care, custody, or control, you do not necessarily have to face a conviction for the offense. The state prosecutor must first prove you committed every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

This can be a very difficult burden of proof to establish, and any doubt in the mind of the judge or jury can result in a reduction or complete dismissal of the charges against you. Therefore, it is important to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Dallas, Texas, as soon as you are investigated for abandoning or endangering your child.

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Child Abandonment / Endangerment Defense Lawyer in Denton, Little Elm, Lewisville, and Flower Mound, TX

If you have been arrested for child abandonment or endangerment in Denton, or any of the surrounding areas in Texas contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.

Attorney Richard McConathy will help you through all crucial phases of the criminal process and make every effort to fight the allegations against you. Call the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy at (940) 222-8004 about your child abandonment or endangerment charges.

Child Abandonment / Endangerment Charges in Denton County

Under Texas Penal Code § 22.041(b), a person commits an offense if having custody, care, or control of a child younger than 15 years, they intentionally abandon the child in any place under circumstances that expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm, or if they intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, by act or omission, engage in conduct that places a child younger than 15 years in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.

In this section, “abandon” means to leave a child in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care for the child, under circumstances under which no reasonable, similarly situated adult would leave a child of that age and ability.

For purposes of Texas Penal Code § 22.041(c), it is presumed that a person engaged in conduct that places a child in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment if:

  • the person manufactured, possessed, or in any way introduced into the body of any person the controlled substance methamphetamine in the presence of the child;
  • the person’s conduct related to the proximity or accessibility of the controlled substance methamphetamine to the child and an analysis of a specimen of the child’s blood, urine, or other bodily substance indicates the presence of methamphetamine in the child’s body;  or
  • the person injected, ingested, inhaled, or otherwise introduced a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 1, Section 481.102, Health and Safety Code, into the human body when the person was not in lawful possession of the substance as defined by Section 481.002(24) of that code.
 

Additionally, according to Section 261.001(1) of the Texas Family Code, “abuse” can include the following acts or omissions:

  • When an adult allows a child to be in a situation where the child is subjected to mental or emotional injury; and
  • When an adult fails to make a reasonable effort to prevent the acts of another person that could result in the child’s physical injury.
 

The Texas Family Code also defines “neglect” under Section 261.001(4) as:

  • Leaving a child in a situation where they could be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm;
  • Placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that can result in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm or harmful sexual conduct to the child;
  • The failure to provide a child with food, clothing, or shelter necessary to sustain the child’s life; and/or
  • The failure to seek medical care for a child results in a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or bodily injury.
 

Individuals who are considered child care professionals have a higher duty to report child endangerment or abandonment and can be charged with a misdemeanor or state jail felony if they fail to do so. These individuals are required to report child abandonment or endangerment within a specified period of time. A professional is defined under Texas law as anyone who is licensed or certified by the state or is an employee of a facility licensed or certified by the state and has direct contact with children during the ordinary course of their occupation.

Child care professionals can include:

  • Daycare employees
  • Doctors
  • Juvenile detention or correctional officers
  • Juvenile probation officers
  • Nurses
  • Reproductive service clinic or facility employees
  • Teachers
 

Certain cases could also involve family violence charges.

Child Abandonment / Endangerment Penalties in Denton

Except as provided by Texas Penal Code § 22.041(e), an offense under Texas Penal Code § 22.041(b) is a state jail felony if the alleged offender abandoned the child with intent to return for the child; or a felony of the third degree if the alleged offender abandoned the child without intent to return for the child.

An offense under Texas Penal Code § 22.041(b) is a felony of the second degree if the alleged offender abandons the child under circumstances that a reasonable person would believe would place the child in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment. An offense under Texas Penal Code § 22.041(c) is a state jail felony.

Penalties for convictions are as follows:

  • State Jail Felony ― Up to two years in state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • Third-Degree Felony ― Up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • Second-Degree Felony ― Up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000
 

In addition to the penalties listed above, an individual that has been charged with child endangerment or abandonment can face the following repercussions and consequences:

  • Ineligibility to receive certain types of public assistance;
  • Ineligibility to adopt a child or become a foster parent;
  • Ineligibility be admitted into certain educational programs;
  • Ineligibility to own or possess a firearm 
  • Inability to obtain employment and/or loss of current employment or professional licensing 
 

Child Abandonment / Endangerment Defenses in Denton

Occasionally, defenses may be available in certain situations involving child abandonment or endangerment. These defenses are not applicable to every set of circumstances, so it is important to first speak with an experienced family crimes defense lawyer to determine whether any of the following defenses may apply to the charges specifically against you. Among the most solid legal defenses to allegations of child endangerment or abandonment are:

  • Justification
  • Lack of Intent
  • Mistake of Fact
  • Lack of Knowledge
  • Alibi
  • Coercion
  • Duress
 

Additionally, it is a defense to child endangerment if the alleged offender placed the child under the age of 15 in a situation that could cause bodily injury, death, or mental or physical impairment if the situation was an organized athletic event and appropriate safety equipment and procedures were used at the event. Also, an exception to charges for this offense is if the alleged offender voluntarily placed the child with a designated emergency infant care provider.

Denton County Resources for Child Abandonment / Endangerment 

Understanding and Coping With Child Abandonment ― Learn more about why parents abandon children. Explaining abandonment to a child is also discussed. You can also find information about the loss of parental rights and post-abandonment reunification.

Child abandonment and its prevention ― Read this University of Nottingham literature to learn more about child abandonment. There are definitions as well as a discussion about the extent of the problem. Also, learn more about the causes.

Texas Child Neglect and Child Abandonment Laws ― Read about child neglect laws in Texas and also get information about understanding the law concerning child abandonment. You can also find information on mandatory reporting of neglect and abandonment and punishment for child neglect or abandonment. There is also a helpful overview of Texas child neglect and abandonment laws.

Find A Denton County Defense Attorney for Child Abandonment / Endangerment Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today for a consultation about your arrest for child abandonment or endangerment in Denton County in Texas.  Richard McConathy is an experienced criminal defense attorney who will make every effort to find applicable defenses in your particular case to have your charges reduced or even dismissed.

Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy right now at (940) 222-8004 or contact us online for a free consultation about your manslaughter arrest throughout Denton County in Texas and the surrounding counties of Denton County, Wise County, Kaufman County, Dallas County, Grayson County, Rockwall County, Johnson County, Ellis County, and Parker County.