While all criminal charges are serious, those involving children tend to be met with particularly harsh scrutiny. If you have children, a conviction for endangering the welfare of children might interfere with your custody rights.
Conduct that constitutes endangering welfare is typically very serious and often takes the form of physical or sexual abuse. The statute pertaining to this offense also pertains to child pornography charges. There might be several ways to challenge your charges, including arguing that no children were placed at risk or that you did not commit the alleged acts of endangerment. Penalties for a conviction are quite serious and may involve serious indictable crimes. You could also lose custody of your children. If you are facing child endangerment charges, you should contact a lawyer immediately.
If you have been charged with endangering the welfare of children, you need immediate legal representation. For a free case evaluation, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.
What Are Endangering Welfare Charges in New Jersey?
The offense of endangering the welfare of children can be found under N.J.S.A. § 2C:24-4 and encompasses a wide variety of behavior involving children. The offense includes dangerous acts or risky behavior involving children and child pornography crimes.
Under the law, a person may be criminally charged if they have a legal duty of care for a child and engage in sexual behavior that debauches the child’s morals. Additionally, even if the behavior is not sexual, it may be charged as endangering welfare if it causes the child to be considered a neglected or abused child.
You can also be charged under this statute for producing, distributing, or possessing child pornography. Child pornography may be a physical copy, like a photograph, videotape, or disc. It may also be a digital copy that you download and store on a computer. Charges for child pornography vary based on how many children are involved, the extent of the operation, or the amount of child pornography in your possession.
Not only could you lose custody of your kids after a conviction, but you will also have to register as a sex offender. Our Brigataine criminal defense attorneys can help you fight these charges so you do not lose your kids and do not have to face such harsh penalties.
Can Charges for Endangering Welfare in New Jersey Make Me Lose Custody of My Children?
Because these criminal charges involve children, defendants often ask if their custody of their kids will be put in jeopardy. While this is a possibility, we cannot say for sure what will happen to you or your kids after a conviction. Child custody arrangements are not changed as part of a criminal sentence and are typically family law matters. However, our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys might be able to help you avoid losing custody by fighting your criminal charges and avoiding a conviction.
There are numerous ways in which a person may be charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Some offenses like possessing child pornography are not necessarily violent offenses. While you might not lose custody entirely, your time with your kids might become limited or supervised.
Other offenses that are considered endangering the welfare of children are violent offenses like sexual or physical abuse. In such cases, you are far more likely to lose custody of your kids if convicted. It is important to discuss your case with a skilled attorney and figure out how to fight your charges.
How to Fight Charges for Endangering Welfare in New Jersey
How our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys help you fight your charges depends on why you are charged and how the alleged offense occurred. The charges may also depend on your relationship with the children supposedly involved in the case.
Typically, if the children at the center of the alleged offense are not within your legal care and you have not assumed responsibility for them in any way, the charges are less severe. A crime that might ordinarily be a second-degree crime can be downgraded to a third-degree crime in such a case.
Perhaps there were no children involved in your case. For example, if you are charged with endangering welfare because you had child pornography, but the people depicted in the pornography were actually adults, the charges should be dropped.
Alternatively, you might not have realized the pornography in your possession was considered child pornography. Possession must be knowing, meaning the defendant must be aware that the pornography depicts a child. If you truly believed the people depicted in the pornography were adults, we can argue your possession was not knowing. This might be the case if the website from which you downloaded the pornographic material assured users that all content depicted only adults.
Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys can review your case with you and work to develop the best defense strategy for your situation. We can certainly work to get the charges dropped or reduced. While a conviction of a lesser offense might be less likely to lead to a loss of child custody, nothing is guaranteed, and you should consult with a lawyer for more information.
Possible Penalties for Endangering Welfare Convictions in New Jersey
Charges for endangering the welfare of children often lead to very serious criminal charges. Defendants can be charged with varying degrees of indictable crimes, which are akin to felonies in other jurisdictions. Speak to our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys about how to fight your charges.
If you are charged with a third-degree crime, you may be sentenced to at least 3 and no more than 5 years in state prison. You may serve at least 5 years in prison for a second-degree crime but no more than 10. Finally, for a first-degree crime, you may serve at least 10 years and up to 20 for a conviction.
There may be various other consequences depending on what happens in your case. Some consequences are part of your sentence. Others are not. For example, you will be required to register as a sex offender if convicted. This may prevent you from getting certain jobs or living in certain areas. You could also lose custody of your children, especially if they were the children allegedly involved in your case.
Contact Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers for Help Now
If you have been charged with endangering the welfare of children, there may be numerous consequences, including losing custody of your kids. Our Ocean City criminal defense attorneys can help you challenge these charges. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free case review.