Parents and legal guardians have a duty to care for their children. It’s against the law in Texas to place or leave them in a dangerous situation. Doing so can result in charges of child abandonment and endangerment.
Parents and legal guardians are not the only people who can be charged with the crime. Teachers, babysitters, and other childcare providers can be charged with the crime as well. If you are currently under investigation for child abandonment or endangerment, you should contact legal representation immediately.
When you are being investigated for a crime involving children, most people will assume you are guilty until proven innocent. You may feel like no one is on your side or willing to listen to your story, but The Gonzalez Law Group is here to help.
Our attorneys have years of collective experience defending clients of child abuse. They will exhaust all of their resources to ensure the best possible outcome for your situation is achieved. Take the first step in building your legal defense.
To schedule a free case consultation, call (832) 530-4070 or submit your information in the online contact form. The Gonzalez Law Group defends clients in all of Harris County such as Houston, Galena Park, Pearland, Brookside Village and many more.
- What is Child Abandonment in Texas?
- What is Considered Endangering a Child?
- Penalties for Abandoning or Endangering a Child
- Collateral Consequences of Felony Convictions
- Additional Resources
Young children are defenseless. To protect them from being left in situations where they are placed in harm’s way, the state has enacted laws that penalize adults for doing so.
Under section 22.041 of the Texas Penal Code, is illegal for anyone with custody, care or control of a child younger than 15 to intentionally abandon them in any place and under any circumstances that expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm.
The state defines “abandon” as leaving a child in any place without providing them with reasonable and necessary care under circumstances no reasonable adult would leave a child of that age and ability.
Leaving children at home is something a lot of parents do. But if the children are young, and the police end up being called, you could be charged with the crime. The crime can also involve cases of emotional abandonment like a work-a-holic parent offering little to no physical or emotion support over an extended period of time.
There are many situations where a child could be considered endangered. Something as simples as not requiring your child to wear a seat belt or leaving them alone in a car for more than five minutes can qualify as child endangerment.
The Texas Penal Code considers the crime as:
- Intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, partake in conduct that would place a child younger than 15 in imminent danger of death, bodily injury or physical or mental impairment.
There are a few situations the state presumes to conduct that places the child in imminent danger. These situations include:
- Manufacturing, possession or consuming methamphetamine in front of a child.
- The child is found with methamphetamine in their body.
- You unlawfully possessed and consumed a penalty group 1 drug.
The mentioned situations are not the only circumstances where you could be considered guilty of child endangerment. Other instances could include, receiving a DWI with a child in the care, engaging in sexual activity while a child is in view and placing a child in the presence of an unsecured firearm.
Placing a child in danger is something the state of Texas does not take lightly. As with most crimes, how you are charged will depend on the circumstances of your case.
If the court finds that you abandoned your child, but you intended to return, you could be charged with a state jail felony. A state jail felony is punishable by:
- No less than 180 days in jail but up to two years
- A fine that can cost up to $10,000
If you abandoned your child and did not intend to return, you could be charged with a third-degree felony that is punishable by:
- No less than 2 years in prison but up to 10
- A fine that can cost up to $10,000
Abandoning a child in a situation that a reasonable adult would believe would place the child in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, physical or mental impairment is a second-degree felony. If convicted, you could spend no less than two years but up to 20 years in prison and a fine that can cost up to $10,000.
Endangering a child is also a felony crime in Texas. If convicted, you could be charged with a state jail felony.
When you are convicted of a felony crime, there are consequences you will face that will impact you long after your time has been severed and fines have been paid. As a convicted felon you will lose your certain rights. Some of these rights include:
- Voting rights
- The right to sit on a jury
- Receive government assistance
- Possess or own a firearm
- Work in certain professions
A collateral consequence with a child endangerment and abandonment conviction is the potential to lose custody of your children if you are involved in a shared custody agreement. There is also the possibility your children could be turned over to Child Protective Services or placed in the custody of a family member.
Abandoning or Endangering a Child | Texas Penal Code– Read the full text of the state statute that governs abandoning or endangering a child. You can read the exact legal definition of each crime and how they are punished. You can also learn more about crimes such as injury to a child and deadly contact. The code can be read on the Texas Constitution and Statutes website.
Punishments | Texas Penal Code – Follow this link to read the state statute that controls how crimes are punished. You can also learn how offenses outside of the code are punished and the penalties for repeat offenders.
Contact a Child Abuse Lawyer in Harris County, TX
The sooner you contact legal representation, the better your chances of a more favorable outcome in court. The attorneys at The Gonzalez Law Group will listen to your story and find the best legal options available for your situation. With over 70 years of collective experience, Our firm knows what it takes to win a case, or have it thrown out. Schedule a time to speak with us Call (832) 530-4070 or submit your information in the online contact form. We represent clients in communities across Harris County. Some of these communities include Edgebrook, Golden Acres, Southeast Houston and many more.