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Understanding Child Endangerment in Illinois

 Posted on January 24, 2024 in Criminal Defense

Cook County criminal defense lawyerYou take your eyes off your child at the grocery store for barely two seconds, and they vanish. Before you know it, you are being paged over the intercom to come pick up your child at the front of the store. It happens more often than you would think. It does not matter if the entire ordeal took less than ten minutes. The sad reality is that you could be charged for child endangerment in this scenario.

If this is only the first time, chances are you would only receive a misdemeanor if convicted. Subsequent occurrences could land you in some deep water with the law, significantly if the child is seriously injured or dies. Any child endangerment charges should be taken seriously and involve a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to handle the case.

Illinois' Law On Child Endangerment

Losing sight of a minor child, even for a second, could very well place that child's life in danger. When you allow or place a child under the age of 18 years old in danger, Illinois considers it child endangerment. A child being out of your purview is not the only instance of child endangerment, according to Illinois law. Other examples that can be considered child endangerment include:

  • Possessing or using drugs in front of a minor child
  • Keeping a minor child in a violent or abusive environment
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) with a minor child as your passenger
  • Leaving a minor child of age six or younger inside of an unattended motor vehicle for longer than 10 minutes
  • Leaving a minor child unattended in a building or home that has been abandoned
  • Leaving a newborn unattended almost anywhere

A child is considered unattended when they are unaccompanied by or out of sight of a person aged 14 years or older. So, no, your 13-year-old minor child cannot be responsible for your five-year-old child's whereabouts.

Penalties For Child Endangerment

A first conviction of child endangerment can vary depending on the individual responsible for the child at the time of endangerment. It is also at the court's whim to determine the penalty severity for first-time convictions.

A parent convicted of a first-time offense of child endangerment may receive probation in place of a Class A misdemeanor, which is the general penalty for this act. Class A Misdemeanors carry a prison sentence of less than one year and a possible fine of up to $2,500 but no less than $75.

Subsequent convictions for child endangerment may result in a Class 3 felony, which can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years and no less than two years. If a child dies due to child endangerment, the individual responsible will receive an automatic Class 3 felony if convicted.

Contact a Cook County, IL Criminal Defense Attorney

Child endangerment is a very serious act that can result in a very serious charge. For help with defending yourself against charges like these, you will want to consult a Chicago, IL child abuse lawyer as soon as possible. The Luisi Legal Group will work diligently to defend you in court while upholding your rights. For a free consultation to discuss your case, contact our office at 773-276-5541.

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