Child abuse is often a hidden problem that never sees a courtroom or arrests. In other cases, criminal charges also come after misunderstandings or accidents that police perceive as abuse or neglect. If you were arrested for endangering a child, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today.
The Atlantic City endangering a child lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych offer free consultations to help you understand the charges you face and what options you have to defend against these charges. Charges for endangering the welfare of a child charges are often very serious and can end in fines, jail time, or even loss of child custody. For help with your case, contact our law offices today at (609) 800-2942.
New Jersey’s Endangering the Welfare of a Child Laws
New Jersey’s primary child abuse and neglect statute is a law against “endangering welfare of children.” More often called endangering the welfare of a child or “EWOC,” this crime is charged in cases of physical abuse, sexual abuse, serious neglect of a child, and child pornography cases.
This law covers two types of harm to children: sexual abuse and physical abuse. A large portion of the law covers sexual crimes committed against a child, but there is a section that deals with physical abuse or neglect.
Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:24-4, it is a crime to “[engage] in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child.” Note that this does not actually require sexually abusing or touching the child, such that acts performed in front of a child could be illegal. It is also a crime to photograph children “[engaged] in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act or to be portrayed in a sexually suggestive manner.” It is also a crime to distribute child pornography. These laws target sexual abuse against children in your custody or care as well as production or distribution of child pornography involving any children.
The remaining portion of N.J.S.A. § 2C:24-4, primarily subsection 2, deals with physical abuse or neglect as opposed to sexual abuse. This law references N.J.S.A. § 9:6-1 for the definitions of what constitutes abuse. Under this section, “[a]buse, abandonment, cruelty and neglect” are all illegal. “Abuse” includes any of the following:
- Improperly or illegally giving up custody
- Having a child perform dangerous job or work tasks
- Having a child perform a job that is “dangerous to the morals of such child”
- Frequent use of “profane, indecent or obscene language” around a child
- “[P]erforming of any indecent, immoral or unlawful act” in front of a child
- Allowing someone else to perform one of these acts in front of your child
- “[E]xcessive physical restraint” of a child
- Mistreatment at an institution
Abandonment, cruelty, and neglect are also defined. Abandonment typically involves giving up the child and no longer caring for them. Cruelty involves physical harm or mental distress inflicted on them repeatedly. Neglect involves failing to provide food, clothing, or care for a child – including care for their “moral well-being.”
Penalties for Endangering a Child and Child Pornography in New Jersey
Penalties vary depending on the harm done to the child and the relationship between the actor and the victim. In many cases, parents or guardians are the ones that abuse or harm children. In other situations, the actor is another adult in the child’s life, such as another family member. Some penalties apply only against parents, but things like jail time and high fines are possible for any child abuse or endangering of a child crimes.
The basic crime of abusing, neglecting, or otherwise harming a child is a third degree crime. The crime of harming a child through sexual conduct is also a third degree crime. Third degree crimes can result in 2-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000. Note that any additional crimes of touching or having sexual intercourse with a child constitute criminal sexual contact or sexual assault and have additional penalties.
Child pornography offenses vary based on the actor’s level of participation. Making a child participate in the photography or production is a first degree crime punished with 10-20 years in prison and fines of up to $200,000. Photographing or filming the child is a second degree crime with 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000. Distribution or storage of this illegal material is considered a first degree crime if there are 1,000 or more instances of the crime (i.e., 1,000 or more photos or videos). Otherwise, the crime is a second degree crime.
Any crime involving the sexual exploitation or abuse of another person – especially a child – can also result in sex offender registration. This may be required for a limited number of years or for the rest of your life and can be an extremely difficult penalty.
In any case where you commit a crime against your child or a crime that involves your child, you also risk non-criminal penalties such as losing custody of your children.
Atlantic City Defense Lawyers Offering Free Consultations on Endangering Children and EWOC Cases
If you have been charged with abuse or neglect of a child or a crime involving sexual exploitation of a child, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our attorneys offer free consultations to help you understand your case and what a defense attorney can do to help with your charges. To schedule your free, confidential consultation, contact our law offices today at (609) 800-2942.