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Child Endangerment

Garcia Law Group > Child Endangerment

Los Angeles Child Endangerment Attorney


California Penal Code 273a defines the crime of child endangerment as willfully exposing a child under the age of 18 to unjustifiable pain, suffering, or danger. A person can be charged for exposing the child to an unreasonable risk of harm, even if the child never suffers actual physical harm.  Although “child endangerment” is referred to as “child abuse,” it should not be confused with PC 273d child abuse.


What are the elements of “child endangerment” in California?

In order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction for PC 273a child endangerment, the prosecution must prove:


– you willfully inflicted unjustifiable pain or mental suffering on a child, or;

– you willfully caused of permitted a child to suffer unjustifiable pain or mental suffering, or;

– while you had care of a child, you willfully caused or permitted their health to be injured, or;

– while you had care of a child, you willfully caused or permitted them to be put in a situation where their health was endangered.


What are examples of “child endangerment”?

Examples that could lead to charges being filed in California include:


– Failing to get medical treatment for a very sick child;

– Leaving a dangerous weapon, such as a firearm or knife, where a child and use it;

– Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child in the vehicle;

– Tattooing a minor;

– Leaving a child with a person with an abusive behavior history.


Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse

In some instances, the case may be referred to the Department of Children and Family Services. In California, a mandatory reporter is a professional that is required to report suspected instances of child abuse. Mandatory reporters include: teachers and school personnel, doctors, nurses, EMT’s, police and firefighters, and social workers. Mandatory reporters that fail to report child abuse could also be charged with a crime.


What are the penalties for PC 273a Child Endangerment?

Under California Penal Code 273a (a) and (b), the crime of child endangerment can be a felony or a misdemeanor. This depends on whether the risk to the child included death or “great bodily injury” (GBI). If there was no possibility of death or GBI, then the offense is a misdemeanor and the penalties can include:


– Up to one (1) year in county jail, and/or

– A fine of up to $1,000.


If there was a risk of death or GBI to the child, then the offense can be charged as a felony and penalties include:

– Two (2), four (4), or six (6) years in California State Prison, and/or

– A fine of up to $10,000.



What are Defenses to Child Endangerment?

There are legal defenses and strategies if a person is accused of child endangerment in California. These defenses include:


– the allegations are false;

– there was no “endangerment”;

– the defendant was not the one that put the child in the dangerous position;



Importantly, a child endangerment conviction can have collateral consequences and prevent individuals from obtaining employment in areas such as nursing, teaching or child care.


Early intervention in your could have a dramatic impact on the outcome of the case.


Are facing charges of child endangerment? Call Garcia Law Group to fight for you!


By Joel Garcia, Esq.


Related offenses

Dissuading a Witness PC 136.1

Domestic Violence PC 273.5

Domestic Violence PC 243(e)(1)

Extortion PC 518

Stalking PC 646.9

Child Abuse PC 273d


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