I have discussed it many times on the NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com. Endangering the Welfare of a Child, New York Penal Law 260.10, may not be the most serious offense in New York’s criminal code, but it is a crime that is horrifically stigmatizing and one that carries up to one year in jail upon conviction. There is no way around it. An accusation of Endangering the Welfare of a Child cannot be ignored or brushed aside. It is bad enough if the child is not your own, but if the minor is your son or daughter you should expect that either the Administration for Children Service (ACS) or Children Protective Services (CPS) will be knocking on your door to open their own parallel investigation. Simply, when an allegation is untrue or there is a misunderstanding, the consequences of an Endangering the Welfare arrest will not merely go away. Law enforcement is always overly cautions and often for the right reasons even if the accused has done nothing wrong.
A recent example of the above scenario, a client of Crotty Saland PC not only fought through the embarrassment of a PL 260.10 arrest, but a felony charge of Second Degree Assault, New York Penal Law 120.05, as well. This latter offense carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison, dwarfing the one year of jail a defendant faces on an Endangering the Welfare of a Child conviction. Although the allegations were serious – the NYPD arrested our client for striking the client’s child with a knife in the eye requiring hospital treatment – prosecutors dismissed the all of the charges.
Before discussing the dismissal of the felony Second Degree Assault and misdemeanor Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a brief overview of this crimes is necessary. New York PL 120.05 is violated when you, with intent to cause a physical injury to another person, cause that injury by use of a dangerous instrument. A “dangerous instrument” need not be a butcher knife, a firearm or a hatchet. It can be a pen, chair or, as in this case, a rounded butter knife. New York Penal Law 260.10 is violated when you knowingly act in a manner that is likely to cause physical, moral, or mental injury to a child sixteen years of age or younger. A separate subsection makes it a crime to be a parent or guardian of a child seventeen years of age or younger and you fail to exercise reasonable control over that child and that child becomes an “abused child” or a “neglected child”.
Putting the definitions of PL 120.05 and PL 260.10 behind us, an examination of the facts in the case against our client revealed a significant injury. After a long day with the family traipsing around NYC, our client’s two children were behaving in a wildly. Our client’s family went to eat at a Manhattan restaurant where the two children were loud and rambunctious. Buttering a roll with a knife in hand, our client began to scold the children and attempted to calm them down. While doing so, our client inadvertently let go of the knife that flew out of our client’s hand striking one of the children right above the eye. When the knife struck the child it caused a laceration that began to bleed heavily. Obviously concerned that our client accidentally struck the child, the family rushed to the hospital. Upon advising the medical staff what happened and after suturing the wound, the hospital staff, as mandated reporters, contacted the police. Because of the domestic nature and injury, despite this being a genuine accident, the NYPD arrested our client. A professional and spouse of a physician, our client was put through Central Booking and charged with Second Degree Assault and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. An order of protection was issued and ACS commenced their own investigation.
Without going through all the details of the case and our defense, the New York criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC met with prosecutors, along with our client, to best demonstrate that the actions were in fact an accident and not that of malicious parent seeking to harm a child. No only did we meet with prosecutors and comply with ACS request, we demonstrated the true nature of our client in a package of information so that a reasonable review of the incident could be made. Further, although the family resided out of New York, not only did we make the parents available, but the children as well. Ultimately, prosecutors agreed with our criminal defense attorneys to dismiss all of the charges.
Every case is distinct and unique. Every case requires its own assessment and plan of attack. Here, we made the investigation easy for prosecutors by being proactive with our client’s innocence and providing access and information to allow the District Attorney’s Office to make its favorable determination. Whether this is the best defense in your particular case is a conversation you should have with your own counsel. Fortunately, after much review, this approach was the correct one for our client.
To learn about New York Assault Crimes from misdemeanors to felonies and Endangering the Welfare of a Child, please follow the linked content in this blog entry and review the greater blog and website for additional materials.
Crotty Saland PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two criminal defense attorneys who previously served as prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.