Penal Code Section 273a –Child Endangerment

California has very strict rules against Child abuse, endangerment, and domestic violence. The penal code of California lays down many sections against child abuse and 273a is one of them which deals in Child endangerment. In layman language, below is the intent of this section:

To protect the child from dangerous surroundings - If the child was put into a dangerous situation willingly and reasonable steps to protect him were not taken then the accused is proven to be guilty under this section.

This means that if the defendant:

· failed to take reasonable steps to protect the child

· Initiated/ Partnered the acts were such which could have produced great bodily injuries for the child

· negligence could have even led to the death of the child

· imposed mental suffering on the child during his custody

This section applies to a guardian, caretaker, parents, and anyone who has taken custody of the child.

Why this section is harsh?

In most of the sections, the accused can defend the charges by stating that the acts were not intentional. However, this section clearly states that even if the acts were not intentional, but the negligence created a risk upon the child or it is easily determinable that such acts can result in harming the child, the defendant would be deemed as criminally negligent. For instance, if the parents asked the kid to stand alone at the nook of the hill so they can click his picture, it is a criminal offense under this section as a reasonable person would never do so.

273d talks about physical harm to the child whereas this section doesn’t require any physical injury. Any act of endangerment is punishable.

Examples of offenses covered under section 273a

The examples below are not exhaustive, they are just reflective of the cases that have been charged under this section.

· Abusing the child by involving him in manufacturing/ sale of illegal items

· Fail to call for medical help when the child is sick or injured

· Leaving a child with someone who has a history of abusive behavior with children

· Enforcing anything on the child which is beyond his wisdom

Penalties under the section

The penalties are the same as 273d with a jail term of one year for misdemeanor crime which can extend to 6 years in felony crime and further by 4 years if the accused has a similar history. The fine is $10000. The court can even order mandatory child abuser treatment for a minimum span of 12 months.

Can an accused be relieved after serving the punishment?

An accused can’t resume his normal life post completing his punishment. S/he can’t apply for any job, can’t own a house in his name, background verification will always fail which means it's difficult to get rented accommodation also.

If anyone that you know is charged with 273a, visit us at Incapacity of criminal defense lawyers, we can spend time in investigating your case and saving you from false accusations. People always fall in the trap of inattentiveness getting equated with criminal negligence. In all such cases, professionals help you in finding exculpatory evidence.

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