When Can Normal Crimes Lead to Child Endangerment Charges?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on November 02, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's not that shocking that parents who leave meth within reach of their two-year-old child are charged with child endangerment. But it can be a surprise when a mother of a two-year-old who goes missing -- who claims she only left the child in a stroller in a park among friends and family for a moment while she went to grab a bottle -- is arrested and charged with the same crime.

While child endangerment charges can follow any criminal act that involves minors or places their health or safety at risk, even seemingly non-criminal behavior can lead to claims of endangerment. Here's a look:

1. When Does DUI Become Child Endangerment?

Driving drunk is a bad idea. Driving drunk with children in the vehicle is the worst idea. In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that around 20 percent of all traffic fatalities involving children 14 and younger were alcohol-related. And many states have cracked down by upping the criminal penalties for DUIs involving kids.

2. Fast and Furious Family: Mom Arrested for Street Racing With Toddler Son in Car

You don't have to be intoxicated behind the wheel to place your children at risk. Doing about 120 mph while racing another car, clipping a pole, spinning out of control, and crashing will do the trick.

3. Dad Charged After Car Stolen With Kid Inside

In fact, you don't need to be behind the wheel at all to be charged with child endangerment, if you leave the child in the car alone. Even if the child is sleeping, the car is running, and you're just hopping into a store to grab a drink. That alone child endangerment, even if your car isn't stolen with the child inside.

4. Is Smoking Marijuana Child Endangerment?

Recreational marijuana use is legal in a few states. Medicinal is legal in many more. But as we've seen, even legal behavior at times can lead to child endangerment charges. And leaving pot where your kid might find it, or worse, ingest it, is one of those times.

5. Another Tanning Mom Charged With Child Endangerment

Using the services of a tanning salon? Perfectly legal. Subjecting your kids to them? Not so much. And leaving your kids in the car while you get your tan on? Certainly not.

If you've been charged with child endangerment, seek the advice of a lawyer immediately.

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