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In Minnesota, a child endangerment charge refers to the act of placing a child in a situation that endangers their physical, mental, or emotional well-being.

This charge encompasses a range of behaviors that can potentially harm a child’s safety, health, or development.

Child endangerment can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of the circumstances and potential harm involved.

In Minnesota, child endangerment charges are often taken seriously due to the state’s commitment to protecting children’s well-being.

Penalties for child endangerment can vary, with possible consequences ranging from fines and probation to incarceration.

Child protective services might also become involved, and the accused individual might face additional consequences related to child custody or visitation rights.

To effectively navigate a child endangerment charge in Minnesota, seeking legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial.

We know it’s important to look ahead and consider any legal consequences and potential implications for child custody or parental rights before resolving your case.

We can assess the specific circumstances, build a robust defense strategy, and advocate for the best possible outcome. To get started, contact us today.

What Is Child Endangerment? 

The Minnesota child endangerment statute aims to safeguard the well-being of children by criminalizing actions that put them in hazardous situations.

Found in Minnesota Statutes Chapter 609, Section 378, the law defines child endangerment as knowingly causing or permitting a child to be exposed to conditions that endanger their physical, emotional, or mental health.

This statute encompasses a broad range of behaviors that could potentially harm a child’s safety and development.

Examples of Child Endangerment 

Child endangerment can encompass a range of situations where a child’s safety, well-being, or physical, mental, or emotional health is put at risk due to the actions or negligence of an adult. Let’s look at some examples of child endangerment.

  • Leaving a child unattended. This involves leaving a young child alone in a car, home, or other unsafe environment where they could be exposed to harm or accidents.
  • Exposing a child to substance abuse. Using drugs or alcohol in the presence of a child or exposing them to drugs, drug paraphernalia, or an environment where substance abuse is prevalent would qualify as child endangerment.
  • Domestic violence. The courts consider it child endangerment to subject a child to witnessing or being a victim of domestic violence, as it can have severe emotional and psychological consequences for the child.
  • Failure to provide basic care. If you fail to provide a child with adequate food, shelter, medical care, or supervision, it compromises their well-being and falls within the scope of this crime.
  • Dangerous living conditions. If you allow a child to live in an environment that poses health or safety risks—such as extreme filth or the presence of hazards—you could be charged with this crime.
  • Leaving weapons accessible. Leaving firearms or other dangerous weapons accessible to a child without proper safety measures is a form of endangerment.
  • Reckless driving with a child in the vehicle. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child in the car endangers them because it puts them at risk of getting injured or killed.
  • Endangerment during criminal activity. Involving a child in criminal activities, such as using them to commit theft or exposing them to criminal behavior, puts them in danger.

Child endangerment charges in Minnesota are taken seriously, and consequences can range from fines and probation to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the situation.

What Happens If You Get Charged with Child Endangerment?

If the State charges you with child endangerment in Minnesota, it’s essential to understand the legal process and potential consequences you might face. Here’s what might happen if you’re charged with child endangerment.

  • Arrest and booking. If law enforcement believes sufficient evidence supports the charge, they might arrest and book you. They will record your personal information during this process, and you may be held in custody temporarily.
  • Criminal proceedings. You will face criminal proceedings, which include an initial court appearance where the judge informs you of the charges against you. The court will set a bail amount if applicable.
  • Plea negotiations. Depending on the strength of the evidence, your attorney may engage in plea negotiations with the prosecutor to reduce the charges or penalties.
  • Court hearings. You’ll go through court hearings, including an arraignment, where you’ll enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest). If you plead not guilty, the case will proceed to trial.
  • Trial. During the trial, the prosecution will present its evidence purporting to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Your lawyer will work to discredit their evidence and argument, and the judge or jury will determine your guilt or innocence.

Consequences of a Child Endangerment Charge

If convicted, the consequences can vary.

Child endangerment charges can result in fines, probation, mandatory parenting classes, community service, or even imprisonment, depending on the severity of the situation and any prior criminal history.

Child Protective Services might become involved to ensure the child’s safety. The outcome of your criminal case could influence custody and visitation arrangements.

Beyond legal penalties, a child endangerment conviction could impact your reputation, employment, and parental rights.

How to Get a Child Endangerment Charge Dropped

Getting a child endangerment charge dropped requires a strategic and thorough approach, as the decision ultimately rests with the prosecution and the judge.

It’s essential to consult with a qualified attorney who can assess your specific case and provide tailored advice.

An attorney will analyze the evidence, review the circumstances, and identify potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.

They will use those weaknesses to attempt to persuade the prosecutor to drop or lessen the charges—or to get you the lightest sentence possible.

How Long Does Child Endangerment Stay on Your Record

Criminal records are subject to rules and regulations specifying how long certain charges remain on your record.

The length of time a child endangerment charge stays on your record depends on factors like the severity of the charge, the outcome of the case, and whether you pursue any expungement processes. 

For less serious offenses or misdemeanors, including some child endangerment cases, the record may be eligible for expungement after a certain period, effectively removing it from public view.

Felony charges or more serious offenses may impact your criminal record longer. To determine the specific rules for your case and the possibility of expungement, speak to one of our lawyers.

Are You Facing Child Endangerment Charges in Minnesota?

You face a serious situation if you were recently arrested, even for a first-offense child endangerment charge. However, there are several defenses that may apply to your case.

The dedicated professionals at Arechigo & Stokka have extensive hands-on experience defending the rights of clients charged with this and other crimes.

We know what it takes to reach the result you are looking for. To schedule a free consultation with a defense attorney today, call Arechigo & Stokka at 651-362-4324.

You can also reach us through our online contact form

Author Photo John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.

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