Ask any parent and they will tell you: Children are game-changers. Introduce children to the equation and it alters everything. And while this probably seems like a no-brainer when you look at it from a parenting standpoint (life pre and post kids are like two different worlds!), many people don’t realize that it’s exactly the same when you’re talking about the criminal justice system.
Obviously, when children are the victims of crimes, there is considerably more public outrage. And when children are the perpetrators of crimes, the ways they are processed through the criminal justice system is different to the way adult offenders are handled. But neither of those subjects are what we’re talking about here. What we’d like to address is whether or not crimes are punished differently is they are committed in front of children!
Does the presence of a child affect how a crime is punished?
Think about it… Assaulting your spouse or partner is a serious crime. But assaulting your spouse or partner in front of your children (or their children, for that matter) is even more serious! Domestic Violence witnessed by children can be the basis for a CPS petition that may affect your parental rights. Also, while domestic violence is always a potential consideration when making custody and parenting time decisions, it may certainly have a greater effect if the child witnessed the occurrence.
Drunk driving is also a serious crime in Michigan. But drunk driving with a child in the car is a whole different ball game. Why? Because children are considered to be vulnerable, and committing crimes where they can see and hear what is happening, or where they are more likely to be affected by the crime, is against the law in many cases.
Crimes involving children are considered to be more serious!
Take for example a drunk driving scenario. A first time drunk driving charge is a misdemeanor in Michigan, punishable by up to 93 days in jail, (or up to 360 hours of community service) and a possible fine of $300. The court may also authorize a vehicle immobilization for up to 180 days
But if you’re caught driving under the influence of alcohol with a minor in your car, even if the child wasn’t hurt in anyway, the charge is OWI Child Endangerment and it’s considerably more serious! Although a first time offense is also just a misdemeanor, the punishment includes up to 1 year of jail time, fines of up to $1,000, and the possibility of up to 90 hours of community service.
As you can see, the presence of a child changes everything!
join us next time, as we wrap up this discussion, and look at a few more examples of how the presence of a child can make a huge difference. Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of committing as crime in the presence of a child, or are fighting CPS involvement in your family’s life, call 866 766 5245 immediately! Our highly skilled child abuse and neglect defense attorneys are standing by to help you!