What Are the Penalties for Child Endangerment in New Jersey?

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It is the responsibility of a parent to protect their child. This means caring for them and ensuring that they are never put in any kind of harm’s way. However, there are many cases in which parents make mistakes that can put their children in danger. In these situations, the individual’s parental fitness may be called into question by the court. If the court finds them to be an unfit parent, the individual may be charged with endangering the welfare of a child. This can result in serious consequences that can impact an individual for the rest of their life. When facing these situations, it is crucial to retain the services of an experienced Bergen County criminal defense lawyer for assistance.

What is child endangerment in New Jersey?

The law regarding child endangerment in New Jersey covers two different parts of the act. Essentially child endangerment can be defined as anyone with a legal duty to care for a child who causes the child harm or engages in sexual contact which would “impair or debauch the morals of a child” is guilty of child endangerment.

What are some examples of endangering the welfare of a child?

Actions that are considered endangering the welfare of the child in New Jersey can include the following:

  • Child pornography
  • Child molestation
  • Child abuse
  • Child neglect
  • DYFS hearings
  • Sexual assault
  • Statutory rape
  • Driving while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle

What are the Consequences of Child Endangerment in New Jersey?

There are three different degrees of endangering the welfare of a child. If a person is charged with endangering the welfare of a child in the third degree, they can be subject to a prison sentence of three to five years. If the charge is upgraded to the second degree, they can be sentenced to anywhere between five and 10 years in state prison. A first-degree charge can result in 10 to 20 years in state prison as well as a fine of up to $250,000.

For those who are facing a first-degree child endangerment charge, it is important to understand Megan’s Law. This law establishes a notification process to provide law enforcement agencies and the public with information about sex offenders. This is three-tier and is based on the individual’s risk to the community. If a person is charged with endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree, they will be required to register under Megan’s Law as a sex offender.