Placing a child in harm’s way is a crime that can accompany severe penalties, including jail time. If authorities have accused you of compromising the health and welfare of a child, you need a skilled attorney to preserve your reputation and protect your future. These charges can be brought for a variety of scenarios, and legal representation may be essential to effectively convey your side of the story.

A North Charleston child endangerment lawyer could review the domestic violence charges against you and advocate on your behalf throughout your case. Let the legal team at Adams & Bischoff put their experience to work for you and give us a call today.

Who is Responsible for the Welfare of a Child?

Anyone who breaches their legal responsibility to protect the welfare of a minor may face criminal charges. South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 63-7-20 establishes that any party responsible for a minor’s well-being could be charged with child neglect or harm, including the following:

  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Guardians
  • Caregivers
  • Babysitters
  • Nannies

South Carolina has several statutes addressing child mistreatment. To fully understand how these statutes may apply to a particular case and prepare an appropriate defense, South Charleston residents should seek representation from a knowledgeable child endangerment attorney.

Charges Involving Child Abuse and Neglect in South Charleston

South Carolina identifies three types of illegal treatment of children. These include child cruelty, unlawful conduct toward a child (or child neglect), and child endangerment.

Determining which offense applies in a particular situation can be confusing for those without a legal background. As such, anyone accused of harming a child should consult a nearby attorney who focuses on child endangerment to better understand these charges and the relevant laws.

What is Child Cruelty?

Child cruelty is a misdemeanor offense outlined at S.C. Code § 63-5-80. This offense involves mistreatment that causes unnecessary pain and suffering or deprives a child of suitable nourishment and housing. Those convicted may serve a maximum of 30 days in jail and pay up to $250 in fines.

The Legal Definition of Child Neglect

Responsible parties who place a child at risk of unreasonable physical or emotional harm may be charged with child neglect. Examples include:

  • Exposure to adult situations (alcohol, pornography)
  • Proximity to domestic violence
  • Access to firearms
  • Presence during drug use
  • Lack of medical care
  • Reckless driving

S.C. Code § 63-5-70 also classifies willful abandonment as a form of unlawful child neglect. Each instance of mistreatment is a separate felony charge, and for each event, the court may order a prison term of up to ten years. The judge also has discretion in levying fines against the defendant.

Child Endangerment and Operating a Motor Vehicle

Breaking various motor vehicle laws with children in the car can subject the driver to child endangerment charges. The driver must be 18 years or older, and the passengers less than 16 years old, for this statute to apply. Individuals who drive under the influence or refuse to pull over when ordered to by police may be in violation of  S.C. Code § 56-5-2947.

If convicted, the sentence will depend upon the underlying crime (i.e., DUI or failure to stop for law enforcement). Additional fines and incarceration times for child endangerment may be added on top of any punishment for the original wrongdoing. Probation is not available in these types of cases. The State also has the option to suspend the person’s driver’s license for 60 days. When the stakes are this high, it is crucial to secure dedicated legal representation from a child endangerment attorney in the area.

Work with a North Charleston Child Endangerment Attorney

South Carolina’s child protection laws can be confusing, and those accused need knowledgeable legal representation to protect their rights and explain the proceedings. A North Charleston child endangerment lawyer could work to reduce the charges against you or avoid a conviction altogether.

If you are accused of harming a child or putting a minor at risk of danger, call Adams & Bischoff today to discuss your situation. We are here to work diligently for the best outcome in your case.