How to Get a Child Endangerment Charge Dropped
Child endangerment accusations are serious, and they can have long-term consequences for you and your family. If you are facing child endangerment charges, you may be curious about what constitutes it, how it is classified, and what consequences you may face. The experienced staff at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices is ready to provide a thorough review of child endangerment accusations in the state, including information on relevant laws and potential penalties of a conviction.
Defining Child Endangerment in New Mexico
Child endangerment refers to any action or inaction that puts a child at risk of harm, such as physical injury, emotional distress, or death. New Mexico defines it as knowingly, intentionally, or negligently placing or allowing a child in a hazardous situation that endangers their life or health.
Child endangerment can take many forms, including abusing drugs or alcohol in the presence of a child, physical or emotional abuse, sexual abuse or exploitation, abandonment, and failing to provide basic necessities.
Child Abuse Laws in New Mexico
The state has strong legislation in place to protect minors from abuse, exploitation, mistreatment, and endangerment. Child abuse in New Mexico is defined as any act or failure to act that causes death, serious physical harm, or an imminent threat to a child’s health or life. This includes child endangerment. The state considers five categories of child abuse:
Five Categories of Child Abuse
- Physical abuse: the infliction of bodily injury or pain on a child, including actions like hitting, burning, or shaking.
- Neglect: a failure to provide a child with basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or education.
- Emotional abuse: causing the impairment of a child’s psychological development or self-esteem involving verbal abuse, isolation, or threats.
- Sexual abuse/exploitation: the involvement of a child in any sexual activity or exposure to sexual material.
- Abandonment: leaving a minor with provisions or identification for a specified period.
Specific laws addressing child abuse include:
- Abandonment or abuse of a child (NM Stat 30-6-1),
- Abandonment of a dependent (NM Stat 30-6-2),
- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor (NM Stat 30-6-3), and
- Criminal sexual exploitation of children (NM Stat 30-6A-3).
The state also requires anyone who suspects or knows of child abuse to report it to the authorities. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges and civil liability. These laws apply uniformly to all individuals, regardless of immigration status.
Is Child Endangerment a Felony?
Yes, in New Mexico, child endangerment is usually prosecuted as a felony.
What Is the Punishment for Abusing a Child in New Mexico?
Penalties for child abuse offenses vary based on the degree of risk to the child, harm caused, the child’s age, and any past convictions.
- Causing great bodily harm or death by intentional torture: first-degree felony punishable by life imprisonment without parole.
- Causing great bodily harm or death by reckless abuse: second-degree felony with penalties of up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $12,500.
- Causing great bodily harm or death by negligent abuse: third-degree felony with sentences of up to six years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
- Causing substantial risk of harm by intentional or reckless abuse: Fourth-degree felony carrying penalties of up to 18 months in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
Conviction may also result in the termination of parental rights or deportation, depending on the circumstances.
How to Get a Child Endangerment Charge Dropped
To increase your chances of getting a child endangerment charge dropped, you need to hire a qualified criminal defense attorney who can represent you in court and challenge the prosecution’s case. Some of the possible defense strategies that your attorney can use are:
Challenge the Prosecution’s Evidence
Thoroughly examine the facts and gather any inconsistencies or weaknesses in their case, potentially weakening their argument and increasing your chances of having the child endangerment charge dropped.
Challenge Intent or Recklessness
Show that the alleged actions did not meet the legal definition of child endangerment or that you did not act with intent or recklessness, as child endangerment entails intentionally or recklessly exposing a kid to a significant risk of damage. If you can show that your conduct was accidental, unintended, or justified in light of the circumstances, you may be able to have the case dismissed.
Dispute a Substantial Risk of Harm
Show that your conduct did not pose a significant danger of harm to the child. The prosecution must show that your acts endangered the child’s physical or mental health or safety. The charge may be dropped if you show that your conduct was harmless or justified.
Show That You Acted in Good Faith or the Child’s Best Interest
Demonstrate that you acted in good faith or the child’s best interest, even if your actions may appear dangerous or harmful to others. For example, briefly leaving a child alone in a car may be justified if it was done out of genuine concern for your safety or that of the child.
Present Evidence of Mitigating Factors
Provide evidence of mitigating circumstances such as mental illness, substance misuse, or domestic violence. If you can show that a condition beyond your control impairs your judgment or capacity to care for the child and you actively seek treatment or therapy, the charge may be reduced or dismissed.
Negotiate a Plea Deal
In some cases, reaching a plea bargain can be the most effective way to have a child endangerment charge dropped or reduced, helping you avoid a trial and potential conviction.
Every child endangerment case is different, and your lawyer will work with you to evaluate your options and choose the best defense approach for your particular situation.
Contact New Mexico Criminal Law Offices for Criminal Defense Help with Your Case
If you are charged with child abuse or child endangerment in New Mexico, you need a criminal defense lawyer who is both skilled and compassionate to protect your rights and future. At New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we understand how serious these charges are and how they can affect your life and family. Whether obtaining a favorable plea agreement, having the charges dropped, or winning at trial, our experienced attorneys will put forth every effort to achieve the best outcome.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We’ll support you in defending your freedom, rights, and family.