Penal Code 273(a) – An Analysis of the Law and Defenses

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The State of California has an interest in protecting the health and safety of children, and passed a law, Penal Code 273a, that makes endangerment of a child, illegal. Endangerment includes the willful neglect or infliction of pain or mental anguish upon a child. It also covers individuals who know that a child is being endangered, abused or neglected but fail to do something about it – as in the case of a mother knowing a child is abusing her children but failing to report it or protect the children. It is also true that a child does not have to be the recipient of abuse, but can be a witness of domestic violence.Defending a Child Endangerment ChargeIt’s heartbreaking to be accused of child endangerment if you’re innocent, and contacting an attorney who specializes in Child Endangerment should be the first thing you do if you’re charged. A lawyer experienced in Child Endangerment can review the facts of a particular case, and can spot and offer factual or legal defenses to defend accusations of child endangerment. There are, in California, a few recognized common defenses to child endangerment, including:False AccusationsThere are times when the courts are told (through a police report or criminal complaint) that a child has been endangered when in fact the child has not. For instance, if a neighbor hears raised voices and calls the police, alleging that there are children in the house next door and the adults are fighting, a child endangerment charge could happen, but be without merit. This is especially true if the adults are bitter or angry at one another and one of the adults files a false accusation of domestic violence. Proving that the child was not endangered is one defense an attorney may use to get his or her client’s charges dropped or reduced.UnintentionalChild endangerment is the willful neglect or infliction of pain or mental anguish. Therefore, individuals who did not intentionally do this are not guilty of the crime. An example may be a woman who is continuously abused by her husband and truly fears for the life of herself and her children if she should try to seek police help. The attorney will consider the circumstances, including past attempts to seek help, attempts to leave, and any other details surrounding the case. He or she will use these details to strategize a proper defense that conveys the accused individual’s innocence.The most important thing one can do when accused of child endangerment (if the case is in Orange County), is find an Orange County criminal defense lawyer specializing in child endangerment. He or she will know the laws inside and out and will be able to take the proper steps to ensure that your rights are protected and that your case is fairly tried.