Have you been arrested for child endangerment in Louisville, KY? The consequences for a conviction are serious. It’s crucial to begin planning your defense as soon as possible. A Louisville child endangerment lawyer at Suhre & Associates, LLC is prepared to fight for your freedom, good name, and parental rights.
We have more than 100 years of combined experience providing criminal defense representation to Jefferson County residents. Contact our Louisville law office or call us at (502) 371-7000 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss how we can help you.
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How Suhre & Associates, LLC Can Help if You’re Arrested for Child Endangerment in Louisville
In Kentucky, child endangerment is usually a misdemeanor offense, but that doesn’t mean you should take your charges lightly. Allegations of abuse or endangerment can be sufficient to have your child temporarily removed from your home. You may face an extensive investigation by Child Protective Services.
If you’re found guilty, the court has leeway to impose a range of punishments, from ordering rehab and education to terminating your parental rights. Plus, these charges carry the potential of up to one year in jail.
You deserve an experienced Louisville criminal defense attorney to fight for you. Suhre & Associates, LLC has an experienced team that includes a former police officer and former prosecutor. We have earned top accolades, including the 2020 AVVO Clients’ Choice Award and the National Trial Lawyers Top 100. We will put our insight, resources, and expertise to work on your behalf.
Our criminal defense firm is prepared to:
- Provide the personal attention and legal advice you need
- Protect your rights at every step
- Investigate your case for constitutional violations and police misconduct
- Develop the strongest legal defense possible
- Represent you during court proceedings
- Argue for the best possible resolution
You do not need to face child endangerment charges or proceedings alone. Contact our law office in Louisville, Kentucky, to schedule your free case review to discuss how we can help you.
Overview of Child Endangerment in Kentucky
Kentucky has complex laws governing matters of child welfare and parental fitness. Parents may face criminal charges for endangerment, neglect, or abuse. It’s important to understand the legal process related to endangerment or abuse allegations.
Cases involving child neglect or abuse in Kentucky can trigger two separate proceedings:
- Dependency, Neglect, and Abuse (DNA) actions
- Criminal proceedings
DNA proceedings are not criminal in nature and are instead designed to protect the child’s welfare and create a plan to return the child to their guardians safely. A DNA action may or may not lead to criminal charges against a parent.
What is a Neglected, Dependent, or Delinquent Child?
Kentucky law defines a “neglected or delinquent child” as a child whose welfare or health is threatened or harmed in a number of scenarios.
A parent, guardian, or someone in a position of authority may cause a child to become neglected or delinquent by:
- Inflicting emotional or physical injury except by accident,
- Creating or allowing the risk of emotional or physical injury except by accident,
- Engaging in a pattern of conduct that makes the parent unable to care for the child’s ongoing and immediate needs
- Repeatedly failing or refusing to provide essential parental protection and care,
- Committing or allowing sexual abuse, prostitution, or exploitation,
- Abandoning the child,
- Failing to provide adequate supervision, food, care, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, and education, or
- Failing to make adequate progress toward goals created through a court-approved case plan
A “dependent child” is a child who is not neglected or abused but is under inadequate guardianship, control, care, or custody.
The actions that make a child dependent, neglected, or abused can be the result of numerous criminal offenses like child endangerment.
What is Child Endangerment?
There are two Kentucky criminal charges related to child endangerment.
Endangering Welfare of a Minor (KRS § 530.060) is a Class A misdemeanor. Anyone legally charged with the care or custody of a minor, including a parent or guardian, can be charged with endangering a child’s welfare. This offense occurs when a guardian refuses or fails to exercise reasonable diligence in controlling a child to prevent them from becoming a neglected, dependent, or delinquent child.
Controlled Substance Endangerment to a Child (KRS § 218A.1441-1444) may be charged in the first to fourth degree. This offense happens when someone knowingly allows a child to be in the presence of manufacturing of a controlled substance or methamphetamine. It is also charged when someone possesses hazardous substances with intent to illegally manufacture a controlled substance in a scenario that would place a child at risk of death or serious injury.
This offense is a Class D, Class C, Class B, or Class A felony — depending on whether the child was killed or suffered injury.
Other Criminal Offenses Related to Child Abuse and Neglect
Under Kentucky law, child abuse is referred to as criminal abuse. There are three degrees of criminal abuse based on the parent’s mental state.
First-degree criminal abuse is intentionally causing serious physical injury, cruelly punishing, or placing a child in a situation that may result in torture or serious physical harm. This degree applies when the child is under 12, the victim is mentally or physically helpless, or when the defendant has custody of the dependent adult or child and allows someone else to commit these acts.
Second-degree criminal abuse has the same definition, but applies when abuse is committed “wantonly.” This means the defendant knew there was a substantial, unjustifiable risk of harm and disregarded it.
Third-degree criminal abuse refers to abuse due to “reckless” behavior.
Criminal abuse is a Class C or Class D felony or a Class A misdemeanor.
A child or criminal abuse charge can also come with charges for assault, kidnapping, sexual abuse, and other offenses depending on the circumstances.
Dependency, Neglect, and Abuse (DNA) Actions in Kentucky
DNA proceedings begin when any of the following occur.
- Child abuse, neglect, or endangerment is reported to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services or Child Protective Services (CPS).
- A family welfare agency or law enforcement suspects abuse has occurred.
- There is a domestic violence case involving one of the parents
- A child commits a juvenile offense
- A child is excessively absent or tardy from school
The DNA proceedings begin when a social worker starts a mandatory investigation to determine if there is reason to believe neglect or abuse has occurred. If the child faces immediate danger, they will be temporarily removed from their home. This requires a temporary removal hearing with evidence of neglect or abuse submitted. A bench trial is later ordered to determine if the temporary removal is justified.
A final hearing or disposition is the last step in which the court determines a fair remedy for the situation. Depending on the circumstances, a reunification plan may be created, or parental rights may be terminated.
Kentucky courts seek to keep families together and generally order supervised visits or rehabilitation to preserve the child’s relationship with their parents and create a safe environment.
What Are the Penalties for Child Endangerment in Louisville, Kentucky?
Child abuse and child endangerment in Kentucky can carry harsh penalties. The penalties depend on the class of the offense.
Endangering the welfare of a child is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Child endangerment involving controlled substances is a felony punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison (Class D) and up to 20 to 50 years or life in prison (Class A).
There are additional consequences to child endangerment. Even without criminal charges or conviction, you may have your child removed from your home and be ordered to attend parenting courses or rehabilitation. You may even lose your parental rights.
When endangerment or neglect rises to the level of domestic abuse, it can also impact child custody, child support, and other areas of family law.
Given the serious consequences of child endangerment and neglect, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced Louisville child abuse attorney as soon as possible.
What Defenses Are Available if I’m Accused of Child Endangerment?
When you are accused of endangering a child, you deserve a strong legal defense. An experienced attorney can help you explore many possible defense strategies:
- You were exercising care and supervision that was reasonable for the child’s age
- The harm the child suffered was not foreseeable or preventable
- You could not have known your actions would endanger the child
- Your actions were accidental and not the result of intentional, willful, or reckless behavior
- The prosecutor does not have the evidence to prove the elements of the charge
Were your constitutional rights violated? Your defense attorney will seek to have evidence suppressed if it was obtained through a violation of your rights. This includes your right to search and seizure based on probable cause, the right to counsel, the right to remain silent, and the right to due process.
At Suhre & Associates, LLC, we will also explore weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you. This may include flawed investigation, biased witnesses, and flawed evidence collection.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Louisville Child Endangerment Lawyer
Child endangerment is far more than a misdemeanor criminal offense. If you are charged with endangering a child, you will likely face a DNA proceeding. Your parental rights are at risk, and your child could be removed from your home. This is in addition to criminal charges and possible jail time. It’s crucial to take action quickly to begin building your defense.
Contact Suhre & Associates, LLC today for a free consultation with a Louisville child endangerment lawyer. We will put our century of combined experience to work on your behalf to protect your freedom and parental rights