What is Child Endangerment in Michigan?
Child Endangerment refers to any behavior or action taken by a person that puts a child in imminent danger or bodily injury, impairment, or death.
Impairment in this instance could mean either physical or mental harm. This means that whether the harm happens to their body or to their mind, it will be treated the same way under Michigan law.
It is also important to remember that under Michigan law, the child who is placed in danger does not actually have to be harmed in any way for someone to be accused of child endangerment. Child Endangerment refers specifically to an action that could harm a child, not an action that did harm a child. It is an allegation that pertains to potential harm as opposed to actual harm.
Child Endangerment is considered to be a form of child abuse. Child abuse can be dealt with by police and prosecuting attorneys in the form of criminal charges. In addition to criminal prosecution, child abuse by a parent or guardian is often dealt with by Children’s Protective Services (CPS) in Michigan. Note that it is common for a person accused of child abuse to be confronted by both criminal charges and by a CPS “petition” in family court.
OWI Child Endangerment
In Michigan, a common use of the Child Endangerment criminal charge is when someone is accused of driving drunk with children in their car. In this situation, this type of charge is commonly referred to as OWI Child Endangerment.
Because drunk driving is considered to be a dangerous behavior which could easily result in serious injury or death, anyone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with minors in their vehicle is considered to have placed those children in the way of potential harm.
In this case, any child under the age of 16 is considered to be a minor. Again, in these cases, if the driver is a parent or guardian of the child, that driver can be charged with a crime while at the same time facing an abuse or neglect petition by CPS (Children’s Protective Services) in family court.
CPS Endangerment Investigations in Michigan
When an officer pulls over a suspected drunk or drugged driver and discovers that their are children in the vehicle, they often call Children’s Protective Services (Michigan CPS) to pick up the child. In these cases, CPS may contact other family members and temporarily place the endangered child in the custody of a relative.
But they can just as easily put your child with an emergency placement foster family. Once CPS has the child, criminal charges are only half of the battle you are going to have to fight, because having your parental rights terminated is a possibility unless the court is convinced that the problem can be fixed.
Usually, when CPS is called by police to remove a child from a dangerous situation, they (CPS) conducts a separate investigation in coordination with the police.While the police will often conduct their own investigation that can lead to criminal charges, they are usually cooperative with any additional investigations also being conducted by CPS. That spells double trouble for sure!
This is because criminal investigations are governed by stringent rules pertaining to evidence collection and individual rights, that do not factor into investigations conducted by CPS. While CPS is often free to gather evidence in many ways that suit them, they sometimes falsely represent their intentions to the family they are investigating. The police are allowed to use the findings of a CPS investigation in their own criminal case, even if CPS was not able to substantiate their findings. Our best advice is:
1) don’t drive after you have consumed any alcohol at all and
2) if you are determined to drive after drinking, keep kids out of your car.
3) and finally, as we always say, call us immediately at 866 766 5245! Do not speak to CPS or to police without an attorney being present. That’s almost always a guaranteed losing situation for you.
Child Endangerment Penalties
Under Michigan law, a first offense Child Endangerment charge is a misdemeanor. Anyone convicted of Child Endangerment for the first time will be facing a sentence of up to one year in jail, possible fines of up to $1,000, and as many as 90 hours of community service. If it was an OWI Child Endangerment charge, your driver’s licence will be endangered as well.
Child Endangerment, Second Offense, is a felony in Michigan. The fine is increased to $5,000, the imprisonment time is not a fixed amount. Instead, state sentencing guidelines allow the judge presiding over your case to determine where you will serve out your sentence, and for how long.
In other words, the judge is given a choice between two options, and only they can decide which is most appropriate for each case. The first option is that you could receive either 60 days in jail and up to a year of community service, or up to one year in jail with only 180 hours of community service.
It is also important to remember that, unlike drunk driving charges there is not a window of time attached to this. Even someone who has been entirely arrest and conviction free for twenty years after having been convicted of first offense Child Endangerment, will be considered to be a repeat offender.
Child Endangerment Attorneys
Child Endangerment charges are serious and can have a disastrous effect on your future. Anyone convicted of endangering a child will discover that even when they have served their time and performed all of their community service, society may still not consider the debt to be repaid.
A Child Endangerment conviction can make it harder to get a job, harder to prove that you are trustworthy to friends and family, and near impossible to participate in any events or trips with your children’s school in future. It can also land you on Michigan’s central child abuse registry. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
At The Kronzek Firm, our skilled attorneys have decades of experience defending clients against accusations of child endangerment and abuse. In addition, we are intimately acquainted with the invasive tactics that CPS uses in their investigations. We have been fighting Michigan CPS for years, and are only too familiar with the often unchecked advantages that they bring to the table. Children’s Protective Services is a tough opponent in court. This is not a fight for amateurs!
If you are faced with a Michigan Child Endangerment charge, whether the investigation is being conducted by CPS or the police, you are going to need an experienced and successful defense attorney on your side. If you or a loved one have been accused of child endangerment, contact us immediately. Don’t wait. Call us today at 866 766 5245. Your freedom may depend on it.