Stamford Risk of Injury to Minors Lawyer
Getting arrested for Risk of Injury to a Minor or Child Endangerment can be devastating on many levels. First, as any top criminal lawyer would tell you, an arrest for Risk of Injury under CGS 53-21 is a felony. Second, the penalties for some arrests could involve sex offender registry. Third, a separate and related DCF investigation usually and immediately follows an arrest for Risk of Injury to a Minor. With so many moving parts and so much at risk, it is important to consult with a top Stamford risk of injury to minor lawyer to try to get your charges dismissed as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
What is Risk of Injury to a Minor?
Connecticut’s Risk of Injury and Child Endangerment statute is divided into two main subsections. The severity of the offense depends on what the alleged risk of injury is. Each subsection carries its own penalties and must be defended vigorously, especially if you have children, work with children, are a scout leader, or want to coach a sports team. A lawyer in Stamford could help someone accused of putting a minor at risk of injury.
Under the first subsection, CGS 53-21(a)(1), a person may not put any child under the age of 16 in physical danger, or compromise their moral, physical or mental health. Sometimes this is called “situational” risk of injury. The language of this subsection is very broad and allows the police to arrest someone on felony charges for a wide variety of conduct such as being intoxicated in the presence of the child, getting into a domestic violence fight in front of a child, shoplifting while in the presence of a child, physically disciplining a child with too much force, or leaving a child unsupervised in a car. All of the above conduct can get someone arrested in Stamford for Risk of Injury to a Minor under CGS 53-21, even if they did not have the intent to put the child in harm’s way.
Risk of Injury Arrests Involving Sexual Contact
The other section that is frequently charged in Stamford is an arrest for Risk of Injury – Contact with Intimate Parts. Someone can get arrested in Stamford for Risk of Injury to a minor under CGS 53-21(a)(2) for having contact with intimate parts of a child under 16 years old that jeopardizes the health or morals of a child. According to the Connecticut penal code, intimate parts include a child’s genital areas, buttocks, anus, groin, and inner thighs. This is a very subjective and broadly written criminal statute. For example, a parent or babysitter who gives a toddler a bath is certainly at risk of these charges if they are accused of sexual misconduct.
This is why the best attorneys advise parents, stepparents, babysitters, and other adults to be very careful when they engage in horseplay or playful contact with children under 16. Local police and DCF investigations are not taking any chances these days. Count on them to arrest you for Risk of Injury to a minor and sort it out during the criminal court process. In fact, our lawyers often see police make arrests for Statutory Rape and Risk of Injury through sexual misconduct because if the prosecutors cannot meet their burden of proof that statutory rape actually took place, then they usually can rely upon the broadness of the Risk of Injury to a minor to secure a conviction.
Penalties for Risk of Injury to a Minor
If you plead guilty or are found guilty at trial for Risk of Injury or Child Endangerment, you can face up to 20 years in jail, a maximum $15,000 fine, sex offender probation, and possibly public sex offender registration, depending on whether the alleged contact was with the intimate parts of a child. For sexual contact cases where the victim is under 13 years old, a guilty plea carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 5 years. With the stakes this high, and your personal and professional reputations on the line, it is advisable to contact a top Stamford lawyer before going into court for putting a minor at a risk of injury, no matter how overblown the charges may seem to you. In all events, risk of injury to a child is a felony and must be taken seriously.
DCF Investigations Following Child Endangerment Charges
When someone is arrested for child endangerment, the arresting officer will usually make a referral to Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF), which then triggers an intensive investigation of the accused and their family. These DCF investigations are separate and in addition to the criminal court prosecution and can be very invasive and embarrassing for any family. DCF investigators are required by statute to launch a separate investigation into the criminal accusations, and they will usually try and contact and/or interview the accused, their family members, their children, as well as the child’s teachers, pediatrician, dentist, and mental health providers. The goal of any defense attorney is to make the DCF investigation close out as quickly as possible, without any findings or abuse or neglect, and without any permanent notations in the DCF registry. To learn more about DCF Investigation Defense, follow this link.
Risk of Injury Arrests for Leaving a Child Unsupervised in a Car
One common arrest we see frequently is an arrest for felony Risk of Injury for leaving a child unsupervised in a motor vehicle. What police do not realize, however, is that they continue to over-charge parents and caretakers with this felony. While some Stamford lawyers argue that police should use their discretion and just issue a warning, the crime that actually should be charged is Leaving a Child Unsupervised in a Motor Vehicle in violation of CGS 53-21a.
Contesting Risk of Injury to Minor Charges
In light of how many different ways someone could violate the Connecticut penal law by unreasonably or irresponsibly putting a child at risk of physical harm, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fighting charges of this nature in criminal court. Each risk of injury to minor case stems from unique circumstances, which means the way that the case plays out and the defense strategies that could best protect a defendant’s personal interests and rights differ with each situation.
That being said, there are some key factors to keep in mind that play a role in many risk of injury to minor cases. First, it makes a big difference whether someone is arrested for putting their own child at risk of injury or putting someone else’s child at risk. The former situation is generally much easier to resolve in a positive way for the defendant, especially if they have no prior history of similar behavior or the charges stem from a misunderstanding by law enforcement. If someone else’s child is involved, their parent(s) or guardian(s) would have to participate fully in getting the defendant’s charges dismissed, which is a much more complicated ordeal even under the best of circumstances.
Additionally, it can be important to distinguish whether an allegedly unlawful act actually caused injury to the child in question, or whether it just put them at risk of getting hurt. If the latter is true, defendants should also focus on establishing how great the risk of harm actually was. For example, the difference between leaving a child in a vehicle alone for a few minutes compared to an hour is substantial in terms of the odds that child would sustain serious physical harm.
Possible Alternatives to Criminal Sentencing
With the aforementioned factors in mind, it is plain to see that some risk of injury to minor charges stem from much less serious circumstances and pose much less of an actual risk to the child in question than others. Accordingly, it is sometimes possible for a skilled risk of injury to minor lawyer in Stamford to resolve a case in a way that does not involve criminal penalties like fines or jail time, and in some cases does not even lead to a conviction remaining in a defendant’s criminal record.
Child endangerment charges stemming from situations that may impact a child morally rather than physically, like committing a crime with a child present, typically can be resolved amicably through plea negotiations and/or participation in diversionary programs. For example, individuals without previous criminal records may be eligible to apply for an accelerated rehabilitation program that, if successfully completed, would allow their charge to be dismissed altogether.
In the best-case scenario, working with legal counsel to pursue alternative solutions to allegations like this could be crucial to preserving a defendant’s future. A Stamford attorney could answer questions about how best to approach a particular risk of injury to a child situation during a confidential consultation.
Contact a Stamford Connecticut Risk of Injury to Minors Attorney Today
A risk of injury arrest has many components and can quickly snowball into a bigger problem for you and your family if it is not handled properly. If you have been arrested for Child Endangerment, contact a Stamford risk of injury to minor lawyer right away. We understand how damaging a child abuse or neglect allegation can be to your reputation. We could work as quickly as possible with you and your family to fight these charges, with the ultimate goal of getting your case dismissed and getting your arrest record removed. We could also run as much interference with DCF as possible to prevent an investigation from raising suspicions about you among your peers and health care providers. Read up on our lawyers here, and contact our knowledgeable team today.