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    Child Endangerment Defenses in New Canaan

    The law protects vulnerable people, including children. Many seemingly insignificant incidents could lead to serious repercussions if they appear to put a minor in harm’s way. If you are facing a Risk of Injury to a Minor charge, speak with a seasoned New Canaan attorney about potential child endangerment defenses.

    Three Elements of the Child Endangerment Statute

    The law that most people refer to as child endangerment, Connecticut General Statutes § 53-21, describes criminal Risk of Injury to a Minor. It has three main prohibitions:

    Endangering the Child’s Safety

    A person could be arrested for putting a child’s physical or emotional health, or moral well-being, at risk. This provision potentially criminalizes a range of conduct, from harsh discipline at home to using illegal drugs in the presence of a child. Police also often use this charge when a child witnesses a domestic violence incident.

    Prohibited Contact with Intimate Body Parts

    This aspect of the statute bars an adult from having sexual or indecent physical contact with the private body parts of a child under 16 or from allowing the child to make sexual or indecent contact with another person’s intimate body parts.

    Sale of a Child

    This provision bars transferring the legal or physical custody of a child under 16 in exchange for money or something of value.


    The crime of Risk of Injury to a Minor is a Class C felony, carrying harsh penalties including a possible prison term of 10 years and $10,000 in fines. However, prohibited contact with a minor’s intimate body parts is a Class B felony, and the sentence could be up to 20 years in jail and $15,000 in fines. A five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence applies if someone is convicted of intimate contact with a child younger than 13, meaning that period of jail time cannot be suspended in any way.

    Defenses to Domestic-Violence-Related Charges

    When a minor is a witness or present at a domestic violence incident, police often press child endangerment charges when arresting the individual believed to pose the most serious threat, also known as the dominant aggressor. In some cases, the child was at risk of physical and emotional harm. In other cases, however, the child might not have even been aware of the incident, and the risk was minimal or non-existent. An attorney in New Canaan can assert that the charge was law enforcement overreach, in such a case, as a potential defense to child endangerment charges.

    Police must report a child endangerment arrest to the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”). DCF will investigate the child’s living environment and file an official report within 45 days. A court might dismiss the child endangerment charge if the DCF report is favorable, and the child suffered no actual harm in the incident.

    Defenses in Other Situations Resulting in Child Endangerment Charges

    Various circumstances in New Canaan could result in a child endangerment charge, and the best defense is tailored to the specific situation. Scrutinizing the motive of the complainant is often productive. Former partners, co-parents, and others could use a child endangerment complaint to promote a private agenda, such as denying the accused custody. If a child is a complainant, investigating the consistency of their story and whether anyone else influenced the report could be helpful.

    If the charges result from police surveillance or sting activity, ensuring the police honored the accused’s Constitutional rights is critical. A legal professional would examine all surveillance authorizations and warrants to ensure compliance.

    Trust a New Canaan Attorney to Combat Child Endangerment Charges

    Being accused of threatening a child’s safety could significantly impact your job, family life, and reputation in the community. An experienced attorney from the Law Offices of Mark Sherman can advise you on effective child endangerment defenses in New Canaan.

    Do not delay seeking advice from a seasoned professional. Schedule a consultation today, and click here to view our Avvo profile with over 300 certified reviews to see what past clients have to say about working with us.