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Union County NJ Criminal Defense Lawyers

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Endangering the Welfare Of A Child

Elizabeth NJ Endangering the Welfare of a Child Attorney

Police and prosecutors in Union County take their duty to protect the public, especially children, very seriously. You clearly need to take a similar approach if you have been charged with endangering the welfare of a child. This is the case whether the endangerment charge is the result of inattentiveness, unintended neglect or something more aggravating like a sexual act. The reason is because irrespective of the grade of endangering which you are facing at the Elizabeth Superior Court, it is an indictable offense that will give rise to a felony record and carries exposure to state prison. This is the case whether the endangering charge was filed as a second degree, third degree or fourth degree crime. Having a skilled attorney at your side is pivotal for anyone arrested for endangering the welfare of a child given the severity of the penalties. 

Marshall Bonus Proetta & Oliver is well positioned to defend you against a endangering offense irrespective of the grade of offense you facing. Our attorneys have a rich history of representing clients charged with endangering the welfare of a child with over 100 years of collective experience, including considerable time serving as prosecutors. We are sensitive to the fear and uneasiest you are probably feeling, and are also mindful of the fact that there are usually two sides to the story. We recognize from experience that there certainly are many cases where someone is falsely accused of sexual conduct or another form of endangering when the incident either never happened or the facts were distorted or exaggerated. An experienced criminal attorney on our defense team is available at 908-272-1700 to discuss the details of your arrest in Elizabeth, Linden, Plainfield, Union Township, Roselle or another municipality. We can help you secure bail and defend the child abuse or neglect charge that is pending. Call us for a free consultation anytime 24/7.

New Jersey Endangering the Welfare of a Child Law

The Endangering the Welfare of a Child Law is set forth at N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. This statute provides, in pertinent part, that:

2C:24-4. Endangering Welfare of Children

a. (1) Any person having a legal duty for the care of a child or who has assumed responsibility for the care of a child who engages in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child is guilty of a crime of the second degree. Any other person who engages in conduct or who causes harm as described in this paragraph to a child is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

(2) Any person having a legal duty for the care of a child or who has assumed responsibility for the care of a child who causes the child harm that would make the child an abused or neglected child as defined in R.S.9:6-1, R.S.9:6-3 and P.L.1974, c. 119, § 1 (C.9:6-8.21) is guilty of a crime of the second degree. Any other person who engages in conduct or who causes harm as described in this paragraph to a child is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

You probably recognize from the language of the law that this offense is treated more severely when there is a duty of care for the child or where the accused assumes responsibility for care. Individual’s possessing this status obviously include parents, stepparents, and other relatives, teachers, babysitters, and counselors. A boyfriend or girlfriend of a parent/guardian can also qualify as someone with a duty if they regularly supervise or act as caretaker.

Sexual Conduct That Impairs or Debauches Morals of a Child – N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a)(1)

It is second degree endangering the welfare of a child for someone with a legal duty to engage in sexual conduct that impairs or debauches the morals of the child. Exposing intimate parts while touching a child, inviting or having a child touch genitals, committing sexual acts in the presence of a child, instructing a child on how to perform a sexual act, and showing a child obscene pornography, all satisfy the requirement of a sexual act that impairs or debauches morals. Sexual conduct of this nature results in third degree endangering the welfare of a child where no legal duty to the child exists. Sexual assault is also a frequently encountered companion offense. 

Abuse or Neglect of a Child – N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a)(2)

It is a third degree crime under the endangering law for someone with a legal duty to cause a child to be abused or neglected. The same conduct results in fourth degree endangering the welfare of a child where no duty exists.

Child Pornography Offenses

Although child pornography is included under the umbrella of endangering the welfare of a child under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4, we believe that the subject is so vast that it should be discussed on its own. You can access the related article by clicking Child Pornography.

Penalties That Apply Under This Law

If you are convicted of endangering the welfare of a child the penalties you will face will depend on both the degree of crime involved and whether or not the conviction stems from sexual conduct. For fourth degree endangering, an individual faces a fine of $10,000 and up to eighteen (18) months in prison. Endangering the welfare of a child in the third degree triggers a maximum fine of $15,000 and as much as five (5) years in state prison. In addition, when the conviction stems from a sexual act, namely arises under subsection (a) of 2C:24-4, the requirements of Megan’s Law apply. What this means is that if you are unsuccessful in having the prosecutor downgrade and/or otherwise avoiding a conviction under this section, you will be a registered sex offender. This is a primary reasons why it is so important to retain a skilled Elizabeth NJ Sex Offense Lawyer to achieve an acquittal or, alternatively, have the charge downgraded to a subsection (b) violation or to a Title 9 child abuse offense. There is no obligation to register under either of these scenarios.

Linden NJ Endangering the Welfare of a Child Lawyer

As you can see from what is contained on this page, there are many potentially twists when it comes to child endangerment and abuse cases. To effectively deal with these issues and provide the best opportunity for an acquittal or reduction in the charge, an attorney that is knowledgeable can be instrumental. The attorneys at our firm have handled hundreds of endangering offenses over the last two decades. A lawyer with the tools to fight your endangering the welfare of a child arrest in Cranford, Kenilworth, Clark, Rahway or Rahway is ready to help you now. To speak to a member of our criminal defense staff immediately, contact our Union Township NJ Office at 908-272-1700.