What is child endangerment? Child endangerment is a charge that applies to a broad range of adult behaviors that put children and teens at risk. A conviction for child endangerment can carry serious consequences that reach far past jail time and steep fines and can affect virtually every aspect of your family and work life. 

If you or a loved one have been charged with child endangerment in Texas, you need to call an experienced criminal lawyer in Houston before it’s too late. It doesn’t matter if there was a misunderstanding or if you made one mistake, Texas courts do not pull punches when it comes to the wellbeing of children. Staying out of jail and keeping your family together will likely mean taking your case to court and winning it — which means you’ll need a damn good lawyer. 

The attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm know a thing or two about winning complex criminal cases for clients in high-stakes situations. Call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000.

What qualifies as child endangerment in Texas?

Texas Penal Code 22 § 041 defined child endangerment as: 

  • “Having custody, care, or control of a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual, intentionally abandoning the child or individual in any place under circumstances that expose the child or individual to an unreasonable risk of harm.”
  • “Intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, by act or omission, engaging in conduct that places a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.”

To determine what behaviors constitute child abandonment or endangerment, Texas courts apply what is called the reasonable person standard. If it can be said that a reasonable adult in the same or similar circumstances would have committed the same action or inaction that the defendant did, then their actions would not be considered endangerment. 

While the incredibly broad statutory language allows the court to pursue endangerment charges for an incredibly wide range of behaviors, they do call out some behaviors specifically, such as manufacturing or using methamphetamine around the child. 

What is an example of endangerment?

Because of the huge range of behaviors that can constitute child endangerment, some examples of endangerment might be helpful. 

  1. Any form of abuse. Any intentional physical harm or injury inflicted on a child constitutes child endangerment. This can include hitting, slapping, kicking, or any form of corporal punishment that goes beyond reasonable discipline.
  2. Neglect of a child. Failing to provide a child with essential needs like food, shelter, medical care, or supervision, may be considered endangerment. Leaving a child unattended for an extended period or exposing them to dangerous conditions without intervention can lead to child endangerment charges.
  3. Substance abuse. Possession of a controlled substance alone does not constitute child endangerment, but exposing a child to them or giving them access to the substances does. 
  4. Reckless driving and DWI. DWI with a child passenger and other reckless driving charges can often lead to charges of child endangerment. 

These are just some of the more common ways that a person can be charged with child endangerment in Texas, but the list goes on and on. Any behavior that can be said to put a child at risk for harm can likely be turned into criminal charges, under almost any circumstances.

What is the punishment for child endangerment in Texas?

What is the punishment for child endangerment in Texas? The punishments for child endangerment in Texas will depend on the circumstances of the case, but they are always steep. Is child endangerment a felony in Texas? Yes. Child endangerment charges are always felony charges in Texas. 

ChargeJail timeMaximum fine
Child Abandonment or Endangerment State jail felony180 days – 2 years$10,000
Child Endangerment with Bodily InjuryThird-degree felony2 – 10 years$10,000
Child Endangerment with Serious Bodily Injury or DeathSecond-degree felony2 – 20 years$10,000

The Texas Penal Code surrounding child endangerment details a handful of specific offenses, namely about the use and manufacture of methamphetamine, but the general outline above stands. A conviction for child endangerment is always a felony that comes with jail time and steep fines. The fines and jail time, however, may not be the most damaging consequences of a child endangerment charge.

Secondary punishments for child endangerment in Texas can include the following: 

  • Loss of custody or joint custody in Texas
  • Loss of voting rights
  • Loss of Second Amendment rights
  • Professional difficulties including the inability to work in certain professions

Some secondary punishments for child endangerment will be court-mandated, while others will be incidental fallout that a charge like this can cause in your life. Aside from your professional life, a conviction for child endangerment has infinite negative consequences for entire families.

How do I get a child endangerment charge dropped in Texas?

It is important to remember that there is hope: a charge is not a conviction, and your felony charges will have to stand up in court. Some avenues that your child endangerment lawyer might take to preserve your innocence include the following. 

  1. Rule out and investigate false accusations. In some cases, child endangerment charges may stem from false accusations. A thorough investigation, supported by evidence, may reveal the absence of wrongdoing or highlight inconsistencies in the accuser’s story.
  2. Challenge evidence. Challenging evidence presented by the prosecution is essentially the bread and butter of criminal law. This may include questioning the reliability of witness statements, challenging the admissibility of certain evidence, or highlighting procedural errors in the investigation.
  3. Demonstrate lack of intent or criminal negligence. If there is evidence that backs up the accusations, there is still an avenue available. Your attorney can demonstrate that you did not take any actions “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly.” 

You don’t just need any lawyer to successfully defend your case, you need a trial lawyer. What is a trial lawyer? A trial lawyer is an attorney who specializes in building iron defenses, taking complex cases to court, arguing them in front of a judge or jury, and winning them. 

If you’re putting your family into the hands of a lawyer during your child endangerment case, make sure those hands belong to a trial lawyer. 

Accused of child endangerment in Texas? Call the trial lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm today. 

What is child endangerment and why am I being charged with it? You may be surprised to find yourself facing charges for child endangerment, but child endangerment charges can be brought down for any number of reasons, even for the most loving parents and guardians. 

Your family hangs in the balance. Losing a case for child endangerment not only means prison time for you, but trauma for your children, and uncertain futures for everyone involved. Make sure you hire a lawyer who can defend your family with compassion and tenacity, like those at Thiessen Law Firm.

Call the criminal trial lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online to begin fighting for your family. 

More Helpful Articles by Thiessen Law Firm: 

Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.