Maryland Child Endangerment Lawyer

State code defines behavior that constitutes risk of injury to a minor can as the neglect of or intentional failure to provide necessary assistance and resources for the physical and mental health of a child. These actions or lack thereof must create a substantial risk of harm to the minor’s physical or mental health to constitute as child endangerment or neglect.

Additionally, state law establishes that any failure to provide the necessary resources or support that come from financial hardship or homelessness does not constitute neglect. If a caregiver has appropriate resources and fails to provide them or engages in harmful behavior, such as physical, emotional, or mental abuse, those actions could harm a minor’s wellbeing and possibly constitute criminal behavior under state law.

It is important to note that there is no specific crime of child endangerment or risk of injury in Maryland. Instead, there are various criminal charges that encompass child endangerment or constitute a risk of injury to a minor. The most common and directly applicable type of charge is either neglect or abuse of a minor. Additionally, other terms may be used to describe charges involving risk of injury to a minor. These may include neglect, sexual abuse, mental abuse, or child abuse. The term used could depend on the context or the nature of the harmful behavior, but each of these terms describe conduct that constitutes risk of injury to a minor.

If you are facing allegations of risk of injury to a minor, you should speak with a Maryland child endangerment lawyer immediately. A skilled attorney could help you prepare a case in your defense and work to minimize the consequences that may impact your life and the lives of your family members.

Under What Circumstances Might Law Enforcement Charge Someone with Child Endangerment?

Law enforcement may charge someone with risk of injury to a minor for any voluntary behavior that places a child in harm’s way. These actions may include driving under the influence with a child in the vehicle or improperly storing a firearm around a minor.

A caregiver may also face allegations of child neglect or endangerment if they leave a minor unattended in a car. If the child is of an age where they are unable to care for themselves, leaving them unattended in a vehicle presents a serious risk of injury or death if the car becomes too hot.

As previously mentioned, charging an individual with neglect of a minor does not require intentional infliction of harm or intentionally exposing a child to risk. Because a caregiver is responsible for the child under the law, leaving them in such conditions could constitute criminal neglect, regardless of whether or not the adult left the minor in the vehicle on purpose. A Maryland lawyer could assess an accused individual’s case to determine how their actions may be charged depending on the situation.

Physiological Harm Versus Physical Abuse of a Minor

Law enforcement differentiates the risk of injury to the mental health of a child as opposed to the physical wellbeing of a minor by determining if the misconduct could cause bodily or physiological harm. Behaviors that may constitute physical abuse include hitting, slapping, or any other kind of assaultive actions.

Unsafe or unsanitary conditions that could lead to illness or malnutrition, such as failing to change a child’s diapers, may also constitute as endangering a minor’s physical wellbeing. Alternatively, verbal or emotional abuse directed at minors typically stipulates endangerment to a child’s mental wellbeing.

Some actions may put both a child’s physical and mental health at risk. For example, if a caregiver exposes a child to violent behavior, crime, illegal drugs. Additionally, unsecured weapons, threatening behavior involving firearms, and illicit use of guns could other circumstances where a caregiver may put their child at risk of physiological and bodily harm.

Potential Penalties

In Maryland, the crime of neglect of a minor is considered a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $5,000 fine or a minimum sentence of one year of incarceration. If the alleged crime is more serious such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, or aggravated assault of a child, these charges may constitute as felonies. A felony carries penalties of up to ten, 15, or 25 years in jail, depending on the specific crime. Some crimes, such as sexual abuse of minor, have enhanced penalties.

If police charge someone with assault of a minor, this is a second-degree misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. First-degree assault carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in jail. Anyone charged with these crimes where the alleged victim is a minor may face a significant jail sentence.

An accused individual could also face additional consequences beyond a criminal sentence. For instance, a judge may place an offender on probation, and a conviction could impact their employment and educational status. There is also a great social stigma associated with abuse against a minor that could impact someone’s professional and personal relationships. A Maryland child endangerment attorney could work to minimize these penalties and other consequences.

Contact a Maryland Child Endangerment Attorney

If you are facing allegations of risk of injury to a minor, you should contact a Maryland child endangerment lawyer because the criminal penalties could be severe. An attorney could prepare an argument in your defense and work to achieve a satisfactory outcome, whether it is a dismissal, an acquittal after a trial, or negotiation.

Legal counsel also could help you deal with other collateral damage outside of the courtroom. They may speak with your employer if your job is at stake or they could direct you toward other resources such as counseling, therapy, or family assistance to provide appropriate care to the child in question. To learn how an attorney could help you, call today.