If you have been accused of endangering a child, it is essential that you seek an attorney to build a competent defense on your behalf. A conviction for child endangerment could open you up to misdemeanor or felony penalties, depending on the charge’s details. This could potentially result in a lengthy period of incarceration and considerable fines.
A Chattanooga child endangerment lawyer could examine the charges against you and help you understand your rights in the current situation you are facing. A seasoned domestic violence defense attorney could review all possible defenses against your charges and worked to obtain positive results possible for your case.
Tennessee’s laws regarding child endangerment are outlined in Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-15-401 and Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-15-402. Under the first statute, a custodian or parent of a child no older than eight can be charged with child endangerment for intentionally allowing the child to be subjected to, or intentionally fail to safeguard them from, neglect or abuse, and the child sustains bodily harm.
The second statute contains the definition of aggravated child endangerment, which is a higher charge and carries an even harsher penalty than the first. In the state of Tennessee, a charge for aggravated child endangerment may be issued if someone commits the crime of child endangerment, and as a result, the child sustains grave physical injuries. In addition, child endangerment is charged as an aggravated offense if the act was perpetrated with a deadly weapon, was particularly egregious, or involved subjecting the child to the production of methamphetamine. Child endangerment involving the perpetration of torture upon the child or the use of a controlled substance is also an aggravated crime. If a person is charged with endangerment of a child in Chattanooga, they should know that they face severe penalties if convicted and should speak with an attorney immediately.
The penalties imposed by the court in the event of a conviction depend on whether or not the alleged offense is charged as child endangerment or aggravated child endangerment. The details of the alleged act will also impact the final sentence imposed if a conviction is entered. Generally speaking, a child endangerment charge without aggravating circumstances is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. In Tennessee, the legal punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is a period of incarceration to last no more than 11 months and 29 days. The court can also assess a financial penalty of $2,500, in place of or in addition to a prison sentence.
On the other hand, aggravated child endangerment may be charged either as a Class B felony or Class A felony. If the child is eight or younger, or disabled, Class A felony sentencing guidelines apply. While a Class B felony carries a maximum prison term of 30 years, a Class A felony conviction can put someone behind bars for up to 60 years. Both sentences also carry financial penalties. The judge can order someone who has been convicted of a Class B felony to pay a fine amount not to exceed $25,000, while the uppermost fine amount for a Class A felony conviction is $50,000. In light of the substantial penalties assessed for child endangerment offenses in Chattanooga, it is best to speak with an attorney swiftly if charges of this nature are leveled.
Child endangerment is not a charge that should be viewed flippantly. A conviction could mean anywhere from months to decades behind bars, and tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of fines. The time to start building an adequate legal defense is now. To speak with a Chattanooga child endangerment lawyer, call today and schedule a confidential legal consultation.