In September, a traffic stop in East Liverpool, Ohio ended up making news throughout the United States when one of the officers on the scene took a picture that became a symbol of the damage done by the country’s opiate epidemic. But the picture also provided visual evidence of the unintended and severe legal consequences that can be created by heroin and child endangerment charges.
The picture in question showed the male driver of a vehicle along with a female in the front passenger seat both slumped and barely conscious from suspected heroin overdoses while a 4-year-old boy sat in the backseat of the vehicle strapped into his car seat observing everything.
This is Not an Isolated Incident
When the police department made the photo public, it was so shocking that it spread everywhere from social media to newspapers and even to national entertainment magazines. The photo gave the United States a new reference point for how the epidemic of opiate addiction endangers not just the users but also children in the care of those that are addicted. Sadly, the East Liverpool photo was not an isolated incident as less than two months later another photo was made public showing a mother in Indiana passed out with a needle still in her hand while her 10-month-old son was behind her strapped into a car seat.
Aside from the startling nature of the photos, both scenes illustrate how the use of drugs while children are in your care can put that child in very real danger. Which means that you could end up facing child endangerment charges along with any applicable drug charges. The adults in the East Liverpool photo both eventually pleaded no contest to child endangerment charges and were sentenced to jail time for their actions.
Child Endangerment In Ohio
Child endangerment charges in Ohio are controlled by ORC 2919.22, which states that it is a crime for any person who is the parent, guardian, custodian, person having custody or control, or person in loco parentis of a child to create a substantial risk to the health or safety of the child. It is also considered child endangerment to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs when one or more children are in the vehicle.
A first offense of child endangerment is usually considered a first-degree misdemeanor with possible penalties of up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. However, if you have a previous offense the pertains to your treatment of children or if your actions result in serious physical harm to the child involved the child endangerment is then considered a felony offense. Felony child abuse charges carry mandatory prison terms and substantial fines.
How a Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
As the prosecutor responsible for the East Liverpool case pointed out, the referenced photo is a representation of thousands of other children in similar situations. Drug addiction can cause someone to do things they would not normally do, including endangering the safety of a child in their care. If drug use has lead to you or someone you love facing child endangerment charges, the possibility of severe penalties is very real, and you need a Cincinnati criminal defense attorney with experience and compassion who understands the best defenses against those charges.
Attorney Brad Groene with Luftman, Heck & Associates is a Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer who has represented hundreds of clients over the years and has worked hard to achieve the best possible outcome in each case. Contact Luftman, Heck & Associates to get the help that you need.
Call (513) 338-1890 to set up a free and confidential consultation.