What Happens if I Was Charged with Child Endangerment in Utah?
Criminal charges involving children are especially serious, and courts, prosecutors, and jurors tend to be harsh and unforgiving. You should consult a lawyer to prepare for what will come after being charged with child endangerment.
In Utah, charges for child endangerment are based on whether a child was exposed to controlled substances. A person can be charged if they allowed a child to inhale or ingest dangerous controlled substances. The potential penalties tend to be severe. If the child in question was hurt or died, charges might be even worse, and convicted defendants face years in prison. People convicted of child endangerment or other crimes involving kids often have difficulty finding jobs or housing, and a severe social stigma is attached to the conviction.
If you are charged with child endangerment, contact an attorney for help immediately. Our Utah criminal defense attorneys can go over your situation in a free case review to determine your best defense. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.
How Charges for Child Endangerment in Utah Are Determined
The phrase “child endangerment” comes up in numerous states and jurisdictions, although the specific charges tend to vary. In Utah, charges for child endangerment are rooted in drug use. According to Utah Code § 76-5-112.5(2), charges for child endangerment may be assessed if a person knowingly or intentionally caused or allowed a child to be exposed to, inhale, ingest, or otherwise have contact with a controlled substance. Charges can also be assessed in cases involving other chemical substances or drug paraphernalia.
Charges may be assessed differently depending on whether the child in question suffered any injuries. For example, if the child was exposed to controlled substances but did not suffer any harm, the defendant may be charged with a third-degree felony. If the child experiences bodily injuries because of the exposure, the defendant may instead be charged with a second-degree felony. First-degree felony charges may be in order if the child, unfortunately, passes away, such as in the case of an overdose.
To be charged, you must be accused of knowing about the drug exposure, intentionally exposing the child, or passively permitting the exposure. Our South Jordan criminal defense attorneys can help you investigate where and how the child in question got a hold of dangerous controlled substances.
Potential Penalties for Child Endangerment Charges in Utah
As mentioned before, child endangerment charges vary based on the degree of harm experienced by the child, although the offense is almost always charged as a felony offense. The best defense in some cases is not denying guilt but rather getting charges downgraded or reduced and avoiding the harshest penalties possible. Our Taylorsville criminal defense lawyers can go over the possible charges and penalties of your case.
If the child in your case did not experience any bodily harm because of the alleged exposure to dangerous controlled substances, you might face third-degree felony charges. Such charges are punishable by no more than 5 years in prison.
You might instead be charged with a second-degree felony if the child experienced bodily harm, serious or otherwise. If convicted of a second-degree felony, you may be sentenced to at least 1 year in prison but no longer than 15 years.
First-degree felony charges, perhaps the most severe charges on the books in Utah, may be assessed if the child died from exposure to controlled substances. You face a prison term of at least 5 years and as long as life if convicted.
Additional Consequences of a Child Endangerment Conviction in Utah
The consequences of child endangerment charges do not always end with a judge-imposed sentence. In many cases, defendants face additional charges and penalties for offenses connected with child endangerment. Felony convictions may appear in background checks, hindering efforts to find a job or housing. Not only that, but there is a serious social stigma attached to criminal convictions, particularly those involving children, and defendants often face social ostracization.
Child endangerment charges are rooted in the presence of dangerous controlled substances. In many cases, the substances are illegal, and simply having them is a criminal offense. If a defendant is alleged to have provided the substances, they may be charged with additional drug offenses, like possession or possession with the intent to distribute. More criminal charges usually mean greater penalties, and you might face even more time behind bars if convicted.
Criminal convictions are part of your permanent criminal record. The contents of your record might appear in background checks run by potential employers when you go to job interviews. Depending on the nature of the job, you might be refused employment for having a felony conviction. Not only that, but a child endangerment conviction might prevent you from ever working anywhere close to kids, such as at a daycare or school.
Finally, convicted defendants often face harsh social stigma after serving their sentences. Not only is finding work difficult, but many convicted defendants report losing family and friends. Our West Valley City criminal defense attorneys can stand up for your in court and help you clear your good name.
Defending Yourself Against Child Endangerment Charges in Utah
The charges for child endangerment are often based on unique circumstances surrounding the individuals involved. As such, you need a unique defense tailored to your specific needs. You can discuss your case with our Utah criminal defense attorneys, and we can develop the most effective defense strategies for your case.
A significant element in child endangerment charges is the knowledge or intent of the defendant. To be convicted, you must have intended for the child to be exposed to dangerous controlled substances or knowingly allowed it to happen. If you did not know, you should not be convicted. Some kids, particularly teenagers, may have their own connections to drugs, and they might have gotten a hold of the drugs on their own without the defendant’s knowledge.
You might also have an affirmative defense if the drugs in question were prescription drugs prescribed to the child. An affirmative defense is one that, if successfully asserted, negates criminal liability, and the charges must be dropped or dismissed. According to Utah Code § 76-5-112.5(4)(b), it is an affirmative defense that the controlled substance in question was obtained through a valid prescription, including prescriptions for medical marijuana.
Call Our Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help Now
If you are faced with child endangerment charges, our Layton criminal defense lawyers can help you fight the charges and clear your name. For a free case review, call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.