Watching children can be a hassle. They like to explore and get their hands on everything. Sometimes their adorable precocious nature gets them in trouble, other times they end up seriously injured. When that happens, you can be held accountable for child endangerment.
Endangering the Welfare of a Child, often called ‘EWOC’ for short, is the name for the criminal offense. The specific statutory language explains this in two ways. Under § 4304(a)(1) it means ‘A parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age, or a person that employs or supervises such a person, commits an offense if he knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support’.
The second, falling under § 4304(a)(2) reads as ‘A person commits an offense if the person, in an official capacity, prevents or interferes with the making of a report of suspected child abuse under 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to child protective services)’.
It goes on to state that “person supervising the welfare of a child” is defined as being ‘a person other than a parent or guardian that provides care, education, training or control of a child’. This means teachers, babysitters, or daycare providers can be charged with EWOC. Charges can be brought against parents for punishing their children, should the punishment result in physical or psychological harm; these charges are sometimes simply referred to as ‘child abuse’.
Determining Child Endangerment
Because the statute is so broad and vague your intentions don’t matter. Which is to say, ‘I didn’t mean to expose the child to the thing that hurt them’ isn’t a sufficient defense. Many believe that child endangerment is only deliberate acts of child endangerment. But it can also include things like failing to secure a car seat or leaving the child unsupervised in an area deemed unsafe (like a bathtub). EWOC can be thought of as either causing harm or failing to prevent harm.
In most cases, EWOC is treated as a first-degree misdemeanor. In the summer of 2017, Governor Tom Wolf passed a law stating that it will be considered a third-degree felony if the defendant’s actions create a significant risk of death or serious bodily harm. If there’s a pattern of conduct found then it is to be considered a second-degree felony. Additionally, the grading is increased one level for children under six. This law also advises judges to consider ordering counseling for anyone convicted of the charges.
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Are you facing charges of child endangerment? If so, contact Brennan Law Offices today. We practice criminal law exclusively, which is one of the many reasons we’re the best criminal lawyers Philadelphia has to offer. As domestic violence lawyers, we won’t rest until you receive the justice you deserve.Read More