Child Endangerment During A Sex Crime in Michigan
If you or someone you care about has been accused of a sex crime in Michigan, then there is the potential for an additional charge of child endangerment. Child endangerment is a broad term that encompasses both criminal charges for placing a child in a situation that is potentially unhealthy, dangerous, or inappropriate, and civil allegations of neglect by Child Protective Services. Additionally, it can be considered child endangerment when a person is arrested for drinking and driving while someone under the age of 16 is in the car. One of the most important parts of successfully navigating a criminal charge of child endangerment or a civil petition from Child Protective Services is hiring the right lawyer.
It is crucial to have the guidance of an experienced, competent, and knowledgeable attorney to protect your rights and guide you through the process. There are numerous opportunities to have a petition for removal dismissed and a child returned home. Similarly, there are many opportunities and options to have a criminal investigation dropped before charges are filed.
Grabel & Associates begins with the end in mind and will win every opportunity to achieve a successful outcome.
Sex Crimes, Dangerous Situations, and Criminal Child Endangerment
A person under investigation for child endangerment will be under scrutiny to determine whether the child was placed in a dangerous situation that is unhealthy or inappropriate. The specific actions will be examined to determine if a child could have been potentially harmed and that a reasonable person under the same circumstances would have been able to foresee potential harm. Therefore, there does not actually have to be harm to a child for a charge of child endangerment. For example, engaging in sexual conduct in front of a child is illegal and could face additional charges of child endangerment.
In Michigan, a parent or legal guardian is required by law to protect your children from anything that could potentially cause significant physical, mental or emotional harm. Therefore, if you knowingly allow a child to be placed in a situation that a reasonable person would recognize as being dangerous, then you could be charged with child endangerment.
A second criminal child endangerment within seven years of a prior conviction or after two previous convictions regardless of the length of time in between is a felony. The maximum sentence for a second offense child endangerment is a $5,000 fine and either of the following penalties: a mandatory minimum of one year in jail but not more than five years, or probation and imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 30 days or more than one year.
Child Protective Services: Child Endangerment
Child Endangerment is one of the forms of neglect under the Child Protection Law and is included in a Child Protective Services investigation. Child Protective Services is a part of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and is responsible for receiving and responding to all complaints of child abuse, neglect, or endangerment. Under MCL 722.623, the Child Protection Law provides mandatory requirements for medical professionals, school administrators, and friend of the court to report any suspicions of child abuse or neglect including child endangerment.
If a person who is required under the Child Protection Law fails to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect, then they can be held liable for civil damages. Additionally, any person who has a suspicion of child abuse or neglect including child endangerment can file a complaint with Child Protective Services. Consequently, Child Protective Services receives over 250 complaints suspecting abuse or neglect per day in Michigan and is required to investigate all complaints.
An investigation includes an at home visit to assess the environment and verify the safety of the child and to conduct face to face interviews with the parents or guardian as well as the children. The investigation also includes a risk assessment and a safety assessment that is required by the Child Protection Law. The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether there is a preponderance of the evidence of abuse or neglect.
Child endangerment is one of the five categories identified by Child Protective Services as a form of neglect. The definition comes from the Child Protection Law in MCL 722.622(k)(ii). Child endangerment includes placing a child at an unreasonable risk to the child’s health or welfare by a failure of the parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for the health and welfare of the child to intervene to eliminate that risk when that person is able to do so and has or should have knowledge of the risk.
Another form of child endangerment is improper supervision, and is defined as placing the child in or failing to remove the child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child's level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and that results in harm or threatened harm to the child. If Child Protective Services finds child endangerment, improper supervision, or any other form of neglect by a preponderance of the evidence and determines that the child is not safe and a court petition for removal is necessary, then Child Protective Services may file a petition for removal and placement of the child with the Family Division of the Circuit Court in the county in which the child resides.
Civil Penalties for Child Endangerment or Child Abuse or Neglect in Michigan
If Child Protective Services finds a preponderance of the evidence that child endangerment or another form of child neglect or abuse took place, then they may file a petition for the removal of the child from their home. Child protective proceedings are a long and complicated process that can result in the removal of a child from home. If a child is removed from the home, then there is the potential that the child could fall under the jurisdiction of the court which can make it more challenging to have the child ordered to be released home.
A child can fall under the jurisdiction of the court if a petition for removal is filed and then authorized at a preliminary hearing. A petition is authorized if it is determined that there is probable cause that the allegations of child endangerment, abuse, or other forms of neglect may be true. If the petition is authorized, then the court must determine the temporary placement of the child pending a trial with the parents, relative, or temporary foster care.
The trial is also called an adjudicative hearing and is the opportunity to present evidence and demonstrate that the petitioner has failed to meet their burden of proof showing child endangerment, abuse or other forms of neglect by a preponderance of the evidence. The adjudicative hearing may either be held in front of a judge, jury, or referee and if it is held in front of a jury five of the six jurors must agree to reach a verdict.
If the judge, jury, or referee reach a verdict that the parent or guardian is unfit and the child is under the jurisdiction of the court, then the court will hold an initial dispositional hearing. Child Protective Services will prepare an initial service plan before the initial dispositional hearing to determine recommendations for placement of the child and the responsibilities of the rights of the parents.
This may seem like a long process, but it is important to recognize that not all families will go through the entire process and with the help of competent legal counsel the process can be drastically shortened. For example, it is possible to win at the preliminary hearing and have the child returned home, it is possible to reach a settlement resolution at a pretrial conference and have the child returned home, and even if the child is found to be under the jurisdiction of the court then it is possible to have the child returned home at the initial dispositional hearing. Additionally, every subsequent dispositional review hearing is an opportunity to have the child returned home.
Hiring a Law Firm that Specializes in Child Endangerment and Child Protective Services
A child endangerment charge is severe and will almost certainly result in a Child Protective Services investigation as well. Therefore, it is imperative to retain expert legal counsel. Grabel & Associates has specialized in both the criminal defense of child endangerment as well as Child Protective Services for more than 19 years. Consequently, Grabel & Associates is uniquely situated to provide a comprehensive legal defense strategy for you and your family. If you or someone you care about are facing child endangerment charges or a Child Protective Services investigation, then do not hesitate to call Grabel & Associates at 1-800-883-2138 today to develop a comprehensive legal defense strategy to obtain a favorable outcome for any pending legal matters.
Grabel & Associates Approach to Child Endangerment, Abuse, and Neglect
Grabel & Associates is the premier criminal and Child Protective Services law firm in the state of Michigan and has practiced before prosecutors and judges in all of Michigan’s 83 counties.
Grabel and Associates has been protecting people and families against allegations of child endangerment, abuse, and neglect for nearly 20 years, and understands how important it is to keep your children and family together. Grabel & Associates also appreciates how vital avoiding any conviction on your record is. Therefore, the objective is to avoid charges from being filed and to avoid the removal of a child from home.
If charges have already been filed or your child has been removed from your home, then the objective shifts to preparing to win at trial. Preparation is essential, and Grabel and Associates will conduct an independent investigation that may include a polygraph examination and will be ready for all factual, legal, and evidentiary issues that may arise.
Grabel & Associates is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-883-2138. Do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation and begin developing the winning strategy to move you and your family forward.