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NY Penal Law § 260.21: Unlawfully Dealing with a Child in the Second Degree

July 5, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

The crime of unlawfully dealing with a child involves exposing a child to or involving the child in activity deemed inappropriate for a minor. These activities can include sexual activity, illegal drugs, and tattooing. There are two charges for unlawfully dealing with a child in New York’s criminal code. The particular charge that you could be looking at depends upon the severity of the activity to which you subject the child. For example, if you sell alcohol beverages to a minor, you will be up against the first degree charge.  On the other hand, if you sell cigarettes to a minor, you will be looking at the second degree charge. Pursuant to New York Penal Law § 260.21, you could get charged with unlawfully dealing with a child in the second degree if you:

  1. Own, manage or are an employee at an place that sells alcohol and you allow a person who is under the age of 16 to remain on the premises,
  2. Do a tattoo on a child under the age of 18, or.
  3. Sell tobacco or a tobacco product to a minor child under the age of 18.

For Example

Patricia sends her 17 year old son, Asher, on an errand to the nearest convenience store to get a pack of cigarettes and a can of beer for her. At the store, the clerk sells Asher the cigarettes, but refuses to sell him the beer, since Asher is not yet 21 years old. The clerk could face prosecution for unlawfully dealing with a child in the second degree.  Even though she producently refused to sell Asher beer, she still violated the statute by selling Asher the cigarettes, as Asher was under the age of 18 years old.

Offenses that are Related

Endangering the welfare of a child: New York Penal Law § 260.10

Unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 260.20

Possible Defenses

If you are accused of a violation of “the unlawfully dealing with a child in the second degree” statute on the basis of permitting a minor child under the age of 16 to stay on a premises were alcohol is served, a plausible defense is that the child was in the care of their parent, guardian, or a person authorized by the parent or guardian. An alternative defense is that the establishment was holding a child-appropriate event that was hosted by a non-profit organization, school, or religious group.

The Sentence

Unlawful dealing with a child in the second degree is categorized as a class B misdemeanor. If you get convicted, the judge might sentence you to up to 90 days, a probation term of 1 year, and order you to pay a substantial fine.



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