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Charges for endangering the welfare of a child in Camden County are more common than you might imagine. Whether the result of allegations of abuse, neglect or sexual misconduct, you are far from alone as someone facing an offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4 (“Endangering welfare of children”). Nonetheless, the consequences of a conviction are extreme and include a felony record and the possibility of being sentenced in Camden to years of state prison. It is therefore crucial for those charged with endangering the welfare of a child to enlist the services of a skilled criminal attorney. Our firm, The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, is comprised of former prosecutors and highly knowledgeable defense lawyers with over 100 years of collective experience. We defend endangering indictments arising in Camden, Winslow, Haddon Township, Bellmawr, Audubon and everywhere else in Camden County. Attorneys on our staff are available 24/7 to discuss the facts of your case and to advise you as to our thoughts as to the best course of action to defend your charge. Call us at 856-662-8300 for an immediate free consultation.
Endangering the Welfare of a Child Charge in Camden County
There are two ways that an individual may face a charge of endangering under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4. The first way is to engage in conduct which impairs or debauches the moral of a child. The second instance where endangering a child’s welfare arises is where someone causes a child to be abused or neglected. When an individual commits this offense and possesses a legal duty of care to the child, they are guilty of a second-degree crime. If there is no such relationship, endangering is a third-degree crime.
Individuals Possessing a Legal Duty.
An individual occupies this relationship if they are the natural, adoptive, foster or step-parent of the child, a guardian or if they have assumed care, custody or control of the child. Guardian includes a teacher, coach, counselor, babysitter, employee or volunteer who is responsible for the child’s welfare.
Sexual Conduct Which Impairs or Debauches the Morals of Child.
While this language is somewhat technical, the reality is that just about anything sexual undertaken with a child constitutes conduct will impair or debauch morals. Examples of conduct that fall within this definition include exposing the child to obscene publications, committing a sexual act on or in their presence or instructing them to perform a sexual act.
Conduct Causing a Child to be Abused or Neglected.
“Abusive” conduct includes: (1) permitting a child to be employed in a vocation or employment injurious to its life, health or morals; (2) habitually using profane, indecent or obscene language in their presence; (3) performing indecent or immoral acts in their presence; (4) using excessive physical force or restraint; (5) willfully isolating the child from ordinary social contact under circumstances which indicate emotional or social deprivation; (6) causing protracted loss of emotional health; or (7) creating a substantial risk of physical injury other than by accidental means which would be likely to cause death or serious or protracted disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ. A child is “neglected” when someone willfully fails to provide proper and sufficient clothing, maintenance, regular school education, medical attendance, proper cleaning, and home care, or perform what is necessary for the child’s physical or moral well-being.
State of Mind Required.
The state must prove that the defendant acted knowingly in order to secure a conviction under either category of endangering.
Penalties for Endangering the Welfare of a Child
The penalties that may be imposed upon conviction for endangering hinge on the degree of offense. Second degree endangering the welfare of a child carries a maximum fine of $150,000 and a state prison term of ten years. Third degree endangering the welfare of a child results in a fine of up to $15,000 and incarceration for up to five years. In addition, mandatory registration as a sex offender under Megan’s Law is triggered where the conviction involves sexual conduct that impairs or debauches the morals of a child.
A merger of Endangering With Other Offenses.
The doctrine of merger prohibits an individual from being sentenced for two separate offenses when their elements are essentially the same. Merger rarely applies in this context, for example, it does not prohibit a conviction for both endangering and aggravated assault or for luring. It may, however, preclude prosecution of both endangering the welfare of a child and lewdness where if a conviction for both offenses is based on the same conduct.
Cherry Hill Endangering the Welfare of a Child Attorney
As you can see, an offense for endangering has a tendency to be both complex and extremely risky. Defendants convicted under 2C:24-4 frequently go to jail and, even in third-degree cases, often have a difficult time gaining admission into Pretrial Intervention. These are ample reasons for you to retain an attorney who is skilled in this area of law like those at our Cherry Hill firm. The lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall possess decades of experience handling endangering the welfare of child charges including time serving as prosecutors. If you were charged with this offense in Cherry Hill, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Voorhees, Lindenwold or another municipality, we are here to defend you. To speak to a lawyer on our staff immediately, call our Cherry Hill Office today at 856-662-8300.