Free Consultation / 24 Hours a Day - (513) 338-1890

What Actions Result in Child Endangerment Charges in Ohio?

Posted On: February 15th, 2024 by Bradley J. Groene
Young boy sitting alone on bench near window looking outside

Ohio is strict regarding laws protecting children, and rightly so. The term ‘child endangerment’ encompasses a variety of actions, and, indeed, it is a broad area. It can be as explicit as deliberately causing harm to a child or as subtle as an act of negligence. But both may place a child’s health or safety in jeopardy. However, the breadth of what’s considered child endangerment in Ohio also means that sometimes actions may be misconstrued, or honest mistakes may be magnified into criminal charges.

Anyone dealing with child abuse or child neglect allegations needs to understand precisely what behaviors may constitute endangerment, as the line between an innocent misunderstanding and a chargeable offense can be fine with severe consequences.

If you or a loved one have been accused or criminally charged with child endangerment in Cincinnati, it’s essential to consult an experienced defense lawyer. But let’s unpack the spectrum of behaviors that might lead to child endangerment charges in Ohio and explore the broader implications of these actions.

What is Child Endangerment?

Child endangerment in Ohio is legally defined under Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 2919.22. Specifically, the charge of child endangerment covers a range of behaviors that pose a risk to the health or safety of a child under 18 or an impaired person under 21. Behaviors can include abuse, torture, corporal punishment, or other cruel treatment, and the use of physical or mental injury or discipline that is excessively harsh. It also covers situations where a parent or guardian creates a substantial risk to the health or safety of the child by violating a duty of care, protection, or support.

What’s the Penalty for Child Endangerment in Ohio?

Child endangerment in Ohio can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. The penalties for child endangerment will vary depending on the degree of the misdemeanor or felony classification:

Lesser offenses might be charged as misdemeanors, while more serious cases, especially those involving repeated conduct or significant harm to the child, can escalate to felony charges.

For a First-degree misdemeanor child endangerment, you can face up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. When charged as a felony, the penalties can be more severe, potentially resulting in years of imprisonment.

Felony Child Endangerment

  • Fifth-degree felony -6 to 12 months of imprisonment and/or a fine up to $2,500.
  • Fourth-degree felony – 6 to 18 months of imprisonment and/or a fine up to $5,000.
  • Third-degree felony – 9 months to 3 years of imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000.

The actual sentence will depend on various factors, including the nature of the endangering behavior, the defendant’s criminal history, and the specifics of the case as determined by the court. Additionally, a conviction can have long-term consequences on parental rights and custody, employment opportunities, and overall social standing.

What’s Considered Child Endangerment in Ohio?

Child endangerment in Ohio encompasses more than the obvious; it involves various scenarios where a child’s fundamental right to safety and care is violated. Here are some actions that could lead to child endangerment charges:

  • Leaving a Child Unsupervised: This includes leaving young children alone at home, in vehicles, or public spaces, especially in conditions that pose significant risks.
  • Impaired Driving with a Child: Operating any vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child onboard significantly endangers their welfare.
  • Exposing Children to Illegal Conduct: This exposure can range from drug-related activities to involving them in or allowing them to witness other illegal acts.
  • Physical Harm and Excessive Discipline: Acts that cross the line from discipline to physical abuse, resulting in harm or trauma to the child.
  • Neglecting Basic Necessities: This involves failing to provide adequate food, shelter, healthcare, or educational needs essential for the child’s development.
  • Witnessing Domestic Violence: Placing a child in an environment where they are exposed to domestic abuse can have lasting psychological impacts.
  • Criminal Participation: Facilitating or condoning the involvement of a child in illegal activities can lead to severe legal consequences.
  • Sexual Exploitation: This includes any involvement or exposure of a child to sexually inappropriate situations or materials.
  • Substance Abuse in Child’s Presence: Using or abusing drugs or alcohol around children jeopardizing their immediate safety and emotional health.
  • Inadequate Supervision in Hazardous Areas: This includes a lack of oversight in places like bodies of water, near busy roads, or at significant heights, where accidents can easily occur.
  • Unsafe Living Conditions: Keeping a child in an environment fraught with hazards, be it due to poor sanitation, structural dangers, harmful substances, or animals.
  • Trusting Children with Unfit Caregivers: Assigning the care of a child to someone known to be neglectful, abusive, or otherwise harmful.
  • Educational Neglect: Failing to address the child’s schooling needs, allowing chronic absenteeism, or not supporting necessary learning interventions.
  • Supervision Lapses Leading to Injury: Situations where a child’s injury directly results from a lack of proper supervision.
  • Medical Neglect: Ignoring the essential health care needs of a child, whether it’s refusing necessary treatments or disregarding mental health issues.

Child Endangerment Charges Are Not Uncommon

For instance, imagine you’re running late to an appointment and decide to leave your 7-year-old watching TV while you dash to the store. It seems harmless enough; it’s just a quick trip, after all. However, if a neighbor notices and reports that the child is alone, you could face child endangerment charges.

Or consider you’ve had a couple of drinks at home and need to pick up another child from a playdate. You feel fine to drive, but if you were stopped for any reason, the presence of a child in your car could transform a potential DUI into a child endangerment case.

These scenarios underline the importance of understanding the gravity of child-related laws in Ohio. An action that might not seem significant to you at the moment could be interpreted quite differently under the law, and it’s these kinds of misunderstandings or lapses in judgment that can lead to significant legal challenges.

The Negative Impact of Child Endangerment Charges

The consequences of child endangerment charges in Ohio are profound, affecting not just the legal standing but the very fabric of your family, reputation, career, and freedom:

  • Legal Repercussions: Beyond the immediate legal penalties, which can range from fines to time in custody, the long-term impacts include a permanent criminal record that can influence one’s future significantly.
  • Family Dynamics: Such charges can lead to restrictions or loss of parental rights, impacting relationships with children and other family members.
  • Community Standing: The stigma associated with child endangerment can affect one’s mental and emotional well-being.
  • Career Opportunities: The ramifications extend to educational prospects, professional licensing, and even day-to-day social interactions. For instance, specific careers, particularly those involving children, may no longer be viable.

How to Deal with Child Endangerment Charges?

Facing child endangerment charges in Ohio requires professional legal help. An experienced and compassionate attorney can provide invaluable support when you look to clear up any misunderstandings or otherwise secure the best possible outcome for yourself and the children involved.

By working with a defense attorney to address child endangerment accusations, you can benefit from the following:

  • In-Depth Case Evaluation: CPS and police investigations often don’t see the whole picture regarding such nuanced cases. A comprehensive review of the charges from legal professionals can help you clear up confusion and build a robust defense strategy.
  • Aggressive Representation: You deserve someone to speak up for you if you’re charged with child endangerment. By vigorously defending your rights, presenting evidence, and arguing on your behalf, you can achieve the best possible outcome, including reduced charges, exploring plea options, or advocating for alternative sentencing that focuses on rehabilitation, and dismissed charges.
  • Advisory Services: Aside from legal advocacy, a lawyer can provide ongoing counsel regarding child endangerment charges, such as working with child protective Services and ways to reduce the impact of the charges.

Charged with Child Endangerment in Cincinnati? Call LHA

Child endangerment is a serious matter that deserves your immediate attention. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can explain the situation to CPS or the police on your own. If you’re accused of behavior that puts a child at risk, consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer about what happened, how you came to be charged with child endangerment, and how you can effectively resolve the situation.

At Luftman, Heck, & Associates, our trusted and highly skilled Cincinnati criminal defense attorneys know how people can easily find themselves in legal trouble related to child endangerment concerns and, most importantly, how to help. Let us discuss your options and the best way to protect your rights and future.

Bradley Groene made an exceptionally difficult situation much easier to handle. He kept me informed of everything that was going to happen and got results for my case far better than I could have hoped for. I would highly recommend him for anyone who finds themselves in legal troubles.