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NY Penal Law § 260.10: Endangering the Welfare of a Child

July 5, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

If you have the responsibility of caring for a child, the law requires that you take measures to keep the child from any unreasonably dangerous situations. If you fail to make such efforts, you could be looking at a charge of endangering the welfare of a child. There are a number of different adult activities that, when a child is involved or present, would amount to endangering the welfare of a child. For example, if you should sexually assault a child, on top of facing a charge of rape, you would also be charged with the crime of endangering the welfare of a child. It is critical to note that child endangerment does not only involve activities that put a child in the way of physical danger.  It also includes activities that can put the mental and moral well-being of a child in jeopardy.

Pursuant to New York Penal Law § 260.10, you could be charged with endangering the welfare of a child if:

  1. You knowingly act in a way that is likely to bring harm to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a minor child who is younger than 17 years old,
  2. You allow a child who is younger than 17 years old to take part in an activity that presents a substantial risk of danger to the child’s life or health,
  3. You are a parent, a guardian or other individual with the responsibility of caring for a minor child who is younger than 18 years old and you fail to make a reasonable effort to protect the child from becoming abused, negligent, or becoming juvenile delinquent.

An Example

A boy named Steven Scott, who at the time was 16 years old, was visited by 3 young girls who were under the age of 16. Steven, some of his friends and the three girls, spent the evening together drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. During the course of the evening, Steven had sexual intercourse with one of the girls. In this case Steven was charged with the crime of endangering the welfare of a child, as well as rape in the first degree and rape in the second degree. This was the case of the People v. Scott, 2011 NY Slip Op 3647 (N.Y., 2011)

Offenses that are Related

Abandonment of a child: New York Penal Law § 260.00

Endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 260.24

  1. Endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person, or an competent or physically disabled person in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 260.32

Possible Defenses

If you are facing a charge of endangering the welfare of a child on the basis of failure to provide medical treatment, you may have a defense against the charge if your refusal to get the child medical treatment is based on your religious beliefs. Additonally, under New York Penal Law § 260.11, if the basis for you having been charged with endangering the welfare of a child is an accusation of sexual assault which is based on the testimony of a child who suffers from a mental incapacity or mental defect, then you cannot be prosecuted for this crime in the absense of corroborating evidence.

The Sentence

Endangering the welfare of a child is categorized as a class A misdemeanor. If you are convicted, the judge could send you to prison for up to 1 year or place you on probation for 3 years.

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