Table of Contents:
Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in the First Degree
Endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree, a Class D felony, pertains to a parent, guardian or other individual legally responsible for maintaining the care of a minor. If the behavior of the responsible adult creates an environment that poses a risk of serious injury or death to the minor, or the adult deserts a child under ten in that type of environment, he can be found guilty of first degree child endangerment.
Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in the Second Degree
When the responsible adult knowingly engages in behavior that causes harm or serious injury to a minor's physical or mental well being, she is guilty of endangering the welfare of a minor in the second degree--a Class A misdemeanor. This harm or injury can be in the form of a lingering disfigurement, sustained damage to a vital organ or body part or a diminished mental or physical capacity.
Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in the Third Degree
If the reckless behavior of the responsible adult leads to the harm or injury of a minor's physical and mental welfare, he is guilty of endangering the welfare of a minor in the third degree--a Class B misdemeanor. Sustained disfigurement, damage to physical and mental welfare or diminished organ or body-part function are used to assess guilt.
Child Maltreatment Act
The Arkansas Child Maltreatment Act seeks to protect minors from exposure to illegal drugs. It targets individuals who attempt to sell or give drugs to minors, sell drugs near an environment such as a school or skate park where minors are known to gather, or manufacture drugs in the presence of minors. In addition to the normal penalties for narcotics possession or distribution, violation of the Child Maltreatment Act can add an additional 10 years to any sentence.
Intentional Abandonment of a Child
In Texas, you've intentionally abandoned a child if you leave him alone in a location that puts him at risk of harm. If a reasonable adult would not leave a child of the same age and ability alone in that same circumstance, then the child has been abandoned. For example, leaving a toddler alone in a park where he could be kidnapped or get hurt would qualify as child abandonment.
Putting Child in Imminent Danger
You can also endanger a child by putting the child in imminent danger. In Texas, this means participating in any action that puts the child in immediate danger of death or physical or mental injury. Even if the endangerment is reckless or negligent but the person didn't actually intend to harm the child, he can still be found guilty of endangerment. For example, accidentally leaving a child alone in a locked, hot car in summer could be endangerment because the child is in danger of dying.
Presumed Endangerment of a Child
Texas has a few circumstances where it automatically assumes endangerment has occurred. For example, state law assumes a child is endangered if an adult possesses methamphetamine in the child's presence. A child is also viewed as being in danger of death if his body shows the presence of meth and the caregiver kept the child anywhere near the drug. In addition, taking any drug listed the statute under Penalty Group 1 that a caregiver possessed illegally can bring an immediate presumption of child endangerment. Penalty Group 1 refers to one of five categories of drugs under Texas law and includes drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Penalties for Abandonment and Endangerment
Texas has stiff penalties for child abandonment and endangerment. Abandoning a child but intending to return to that child or meeting an endangerment presumption is a state jail felony. This can result in a jail term of 180 days to two years and a fine of up to $10,000. Abandoning a child without intending to return for the child is a third-degree felony. The punishment for this is a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of two to 10 years. Abandoning a child in a situation that puts the child in imminent danger of death or harm is a second-degree felony. This carries the toughest sentence of all, with a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison term of two to 20 years.
Exceptions to Abandonment and Endangerment
Texas law allows a few exceptions to the child endangerment law. For example, even though certain sports like football can put a child under 15 in danger of injury, the caregiver is not charged with endangerment as long as the child is wearing safety equipment and taking part in good safety procedures. In addition, if a parent delivers an infant to an emergency infant care provider, he won't be found guilty of abandonment, unless the child was abused or neglected. These providers include emergency services, hospitals and child-placement agencies with a registered nurse on staff.
Physical abuse is defined by intent. If a parent or guardian knowingly inflicts pain on a child, this falls under the Missouri definition of child abuse under Missouri Statute 210.110. It is illegal for anyone---a parent, relative, neighbor or temporary caretaker---to physically abuse a child. Physical abuse includes assault, battery, coercion, harassment, sexual assault and imprisonment.
In Missouri, it is legal to use "reasonable force," such as spanking, to discipline a child. It is also legal to use force to reprimand a child if a family's religious beliefs tolerate it. However, if the child sustains serious injury and requires medical attention as a result of discipline, the state may intervene for the sake of the child's health.
Sexual abuse is considered child abuse in all states. This includes rape, molestation, incest and pornography.
Emotional abuse is considered child abuse under Missouri Statute 210.110. Emotional abuse includes all actions that result in mental injury to a child. The presence of emotional abuse is determined by deviance from normal behavior in children. Behaviors in children that may require investigation are depression, aggression and withdrawal from others.
In Missouri, leaving a child without shelter, food, clothing or doing anything to compromise a child's safety is considered neglect under statute 210.110. In a few states, Missouri included, withholding a child's education also falls under the definition of neglect.
If a child is exposed to prenatal drug use, Missouri defines this as neglect under Statute 568.045. Additionally, when a child is exposed to the manufacturing, use or distribution of illegal drugs, this is a class C felony in the state of Missouri. According to the Missouri Attorney General, a class C felony, is punishable by up to seven years in prison. If these actions occur in a ritual or ceremony, it is a class B felony, which carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison.