Judges, prosecutors, and NY criminal defense attorneys recognize that law enforcement must always be vigilant in protecting children and keeping them safe. That being said, NY criminal defense attorneys must also hold the prosecution to their burden of proof when their clients are charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Penal Law ､260.10.
One issue that has been litigated on multiple occasions is whether the conduct that “endangers” the child must be conduct that is directed at the child. In the alternative, is it sufficient if the conduct, although not directed at the child, is the type of behavior that the actor is aware will likely harm the child?
The answer to this particular question is clear. That is, the defendant need only be aware that his or her conduct “may likely result in harm.” People v. Johnson, 95 NY2d 368 (2000).
Assuming a defendant’s activities are such that he or she should be aware that harm will likely occur, the next question is how to define the level or type of harm that is sufficient. Courts have ruled that the type of harm that endangers children and satisfies this prong includes, but is not limited to: driving drunk with a child in the car, having guns in one’s home where children can access them, assaulting children and in some circumstances even making numerous obscene and vulgar comments towards the child.
While some examples of the type of harm are clear and leave little room for dispute (such as a loaded weapon in the proximity of a young child or toddler), some courts differ on the less blatant forms of harm. For example, some courts disagree on whether possessing or purchasing drugs in the presence of children rises to the level of Endangering the Welfare of the Child. In ambiguous and unclear circumstances such as that, an experienced NY criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between a dismissal of the charges and a conviction if he can convince the court the information/complaint against you is insufficient. Regardless of the facts alleged in a complaint against you, consult and retain a criminal defense lawyer who can analyze your case, make the right decisions and fight for your freedom, integrity and future.