Endangering the Welfare of a Child

Maybe you left your kids home alone or in a car for a few minutes by themselves. Alternatively, you left out a knife or alcohol in arms reach of a child. A mistake on your part? Maybe. It is criminal? Again, it may be. Endangering the Welfare of a Child in New York is a devastating crime in every sense of the word. An experienced New York criminal lawyer and Endangering the Welfare of a Child attorney often time has an arduous task of convincing a zealous prosecutor in Manhattan or Assistant District Attorney in Westchester County that an arrest for New York Penal Law 260.25 is merely a "classic overcharge" offense. Unfortunately, for those arrested for Endangering the Welfare of a Child, it is not merely the potential sentence of up to one year in jail or the risk of a criminal record associated with this crime, but the scarlet letter and stigma of the accusation alone.

Unlike offenses that are fairly obvious and criminalize the possession of a forbidden object such as the misdemeanor offenses of New York Penal Law 265.01(1) (gravity knife possession) and New York Penal Law 220.03 (cocaine possession), New York Penal Law 260.25 is not always as obvious or clear. In fact, your alleged conduct need not be specifically direct at the child in question.

Generally, you are guilty of Endangering the Welfare of a Child anywhere in New York State from Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn to White Plains, Rockland and any other jurisdiction, when your conduct is as follows:

NY PL 260.10(1)

You are guilty of Endangering the Welfare of a Child if you act knowingly in such a way that is likely to cause an injury to the mental state, person of (physical) or moral welfare of a child. This child must be sixteen years old or younger.

NY PL 260.10(2)

You are guilty of Endangering the Welfare of a Child if you are a guardian (parent or have custody) of any child seventeen years old or younger and you fail to exercise reasonable diligence over that child to prevent him or her from becoming, among other things, an "abused child," "neglected child" or "person in need of supervision." These terms are defined in Article ten, three and seven of the Family Court Act.

Whether you are teacher, banker, lawyer, doctor, stay at home mom or anything in between, the more common of the two charges addressed above is the former. As noted, you may have managed an exemplary life with your children, but after you ran into Bloomingdales or the grocery store and left your children unattended in a vehicle, you now find yourself in police custody upon your return.

Although only a New York City Criminal Court opinion, People v. Reyes sets forth when a parent's conduct, or lack thereof, becomes criminal and examines the age of the child, time that child was left alone, why he or she was left alone and his or her maturity level. A review of this decision is no substitute for the assistance of a New York criminal defense attorney familiar with the Endangering the Welfare of a Child statute and related cases, but a good place to start should the allegations against you involve leaving a child unattended.

Unfortunately, "good people" can easily find themselves wrapped up in allegations and arrests stemming from New York Penal Law 260.10 well beyond what is addressed here. Your actions can be significantly different than leaving a child unattended. Do not compound an already terrible situation that can scar your name for life. Put yourself in the best place to challenge the accusations and consult with an experienced criminal attorney.

For additional information on other Endangering the Welfare of a Child cases as well as analysis of the relevant statutes, a review of the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog and a search for "260.10" will reveal pertinent information. Beyond this crime, the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog is a source of material on other crimes and statutes in New York as well as cases in the news.

In the event that you were issued a Desk Appearance Ticket, as opposed to being processed for 24 hours in the New York City Court System, follow the highlighted link.

Call the Endangering the Welfare of a Child lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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