Under Michigan law, Child Endangerment refers to any action or behavior a person engages in that places a child in imminent danger of bodily injury, mental or physical impairment, or death. It is important to remember that, with regard to this particular charge, the child in question doesn't have to be harmed in any way for the charge to be brought.
In order for someone to be charged with child endangerment, they do not have to assault or injure a child in any way. They only have to do something that places a child in danger of being hurt or killed. It is a charge that deals with potential harm, rather than actual harm.
OWI Child Endangerment
In Michigan, one instance where a charge of Child Endangerment is almost always applied, is when someone drives drunk with one or more children in the car. Because driving drunk is dangerous, and often results in accidents that cause severe injuries and even death, driving under the influence of alcohol with a child under the age of 16 in the car is considered to be OWI child endangerment in Michigan.
Child Endangerment Penalties
In Michigan, a first offense child endangerment charge is a misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face fines of up to $1,000, up to one year of jail time, and community service hours of up to 90 days. If the charge was related to a drunk driving incident, you could also suffer the loss of your driver's license.
The second time someone is charged with Child Endangerment in Michigan, it's a felony. In this instance the fines are increased up to $5,000. But according to state sentencing guidelines, the circumstances allow the presiding judge to determine where you serve this second sentence. Michigan sentencing guidelines state that you could receive either up to 60 days imprisonment with up to a year of community service, or up to one year in jail and 180 days of community service.
It is important to remember, however, that criminal charges are only one side of the coin in these cases. If you are arrested for drunk driving, for example, the officers will likely contact CPS to pick up the child that was in the vehicle with you. And once CPS has your child, while they may hand them over to a family member, there is still a good chance that they will start a separate investigation, which could result in another set of charges you will have to face.
Once CPS investigates your family, they may determine that you are an unfit parent and attempt to interfere with how you raise your children. They may also add your name to the state's "child abuse list," or require that you perform a series of tasks in order to keep your children. You may be required to attend parenting classes, join substance abuse counseling, or submit to regular drug tests. In some cases, they may attempt to terminate your parental rights, which would mean that your children are lost to you forever. Even in cases where the parents have been acquitted of all criminal charges, CPS can still pursue you and make life very miserable for your family.
Child Endangerment Defense Attorneys
At Kronzek & Cronkright, our attorneys have decades of experience defending clients against the invasive tactics of CPS, and also against allegations and charges relating to Child Endangerment. We have been aggressively fighting CPS for years, and we are well acquainted with the power and advantage they bring to the table. Which is why, if you are going to enter this battle evenly matched, you are going to need the defense equivalent of a heavyweight champion on your side.
If you or a loved one have been accused of child endangerment, or are being investigated by either CPS or the police, contact us immediately. The sooner we can begin building your defense, the better your chances are of coming out ahead in this fight. Don't wait. Call us today. Yours and your family's freedom may depend on that call.