An Oak Hills High School student revealed that she and her siblings had been abused and neglected by their parents. An investigation revealed that the child, ages 10 to 14, were the victims of neglect and abuse.
The parents reportedly spent time producing rock cocaine at the family home, rather than concentrating on taking care of their children. The kids were routinely left home alone to fend for themselves while the parents traveled to Los Angeles to sell drugs.
A search of the family home uncovered rock cocaine, packing equipment, and scales, all of which indicate the sale of the controlled substance. Police also discovered that the family home lacked adequate food and hygiene supplies for the children. Warrants were issued for the parents’ arrest.
Police located and arrested the parents in Los Angeles outside of their children’s school. They were in possession of rock cocaine and cash at the time of the arrest. They face criminal charges for child endangerment and child neglect.
What is Child Endangerment?
Parents have to make sure that their kids aren’t put in situations that are potentially dangerous or harmful. Actions that endanger a child are considered acts of child abuse.
Child endangerment is defined in California Penal Code 273a PC. Parents are guilty of endangerment if they willfully cause or permit:
- A child to suffer unjustifiable pain or suffering under conditions likely to cause great bodily harm or death;
- The person or health of a child to be injured while having custody or care of that child; or
- The child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered.
In other words, any parent or caretaker who allows a child to be put in a position that could reasonably cause them physical or mental harm can be guilty of child endangerment.
Child Neglect Under California Law
Parents in California also have an obligation to take care of their kids. This includes protecting their children and providing them with the things they need to be safe, happy, and healthy. Failing to provide for a child is considered neglect. Under California law, neglect is a form of child abuse.
Child neglect is defined in California Penal Code 270 PC. A parent or caretaker can be guilty of child neglect if they “willfully omit, without lawful excuse, to furnish necessary clothing, food, shelter…or medical care for [their] child.”
The Hesperia parents have been accused of failing to provide their children with food and a hygienic place to live. Under California law, this can be considered neglect.
Examples of Child Neglect and Child Endangerment
Child neglect and endangerment can take many shapes and forms. Examples of child neglect can include:
- Failing to provide adequate food, water, or shelter for a child
- Allowing a child to live in filth
- Knowingly permitting a child to spend time with an abusive person
- Employing unnecessarily cruel or unusual punishments
- Chastizing, berating, or degrading a child verbally
- Leaving a child alone for extended periods of time, and
- Engaging in dangerous activities in a child’s home or with a child nearby.
Child endangerment can include almost any behavior that puts a child’s physical, emotional, or mental well being in danger.
Penalties for Child Neglect and Endangerment
Child neglect and child endangerment are both wobblers in California. This simply means that both crimes can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. The charge will ultimately depend on the facts of each specific case.
Child neglect is usually charged as a misdemeanor in California. Penalties for misdemeanor child neglect can include up to 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail, $2,000 in fines, and/or probation. Probation is commonly used to punish a parent for first-time offenses.
There are situations when a parent can be charged with felony child neglect. This may happen if a parent is repeatedly arrested for neglect or if they intentionally refuse to provide for their child. Penalties for felony child neglect can include 12 months plus one day in a California state prison and $2,000 in fines.
Child endangerment is charged as a misdemeanor unless there is evidence to show that a parent acted under circumstances likely to cause great bodily harm or death.
As a misdemeanor, child endangerment is punishable by 12 months in a Los Angeles County Jail, $1,000 in fines, and/or probation.
As a felony, child endangerment is punishable by up to 6 years in a California state prison and $10,000 in fines.
The parents in this particular case will also face criminal drug charges for the possession and sale of rock cocaine. Penalties imposed for drug convictions will be imposed in addition to those for child endangerment and abuse. As a result, the parents could face several years behind bars and lose their children in the process.
The parents should immediately seek the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Hiring a lawyer will put them in the best position to secure the best possible outcome in their respective criminal cases.