Endangering the Welfare of a Child

Trenton NJ Endangering the Welfare of a Child Lawyer 

Endangering the welfare of a child is by far one of the most complex statutes under the entire New Jersey Criminal Code. It encompasses a wide variety of potential conduct, including but not limited to physical assault, sexual assault, and child pornography. It also carries with it the potential for extremely harsh penalties including but not limited mandatory Megan’s Law Registration, Parole Supervision for Life, high fines and a lengthy state prison sentence. In addition to that, if the alleged victim is a relative, child services will almost certainly be involved as well. So, if you have been arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child it is crucial that you speak to an experienced Mercer County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your options.

Looking for Local Endangering Welfare of Child Lawyer in Ewing NJ

A Defendant charged with endangering the welfare of a child in Mercer County may also face, aggravated assault, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, assault by auto, driving while intoxicated (DWI) and aggravated criminal sexual contact charges as well. If you have been charged with any of the previously mentioned offenses or any other criminal offense for that matter the Law Offices of Proetta & Oliver can help. Our office services all of Mercer County including towns like Lawrence, West Windsor, Ewing, Trenton, Robbinsville, Princeton and Hightstown. If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys about your options then please contact our office at (609)789-0779. As always, our initial consultations are free, so if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Endangering the Welfare of a Child Charges in Princeton NJ

As touched upon above, Endangering the Welfare of a Child is a very complex offense and it covers a ton of potential conduct. The governing statute in New Jersey for Endangering the Welfare of a Child is N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4. Here is breakdown in not only every potential degree but also what the State must prove in order to obtain a conviction for that section.

All 3rd Degree Felony Endangering the Welfare of a Child Charges:

N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a(1): “Sexual Conduct”

To be convicted of this subsection of the statute, the State must prove that the Defendant knowingly engaged in “sexual conduct” with the victim that would and/or did impair or debauch the morals of the victim. Sexual Conduct that “impairs or debauches the morals of child” is any conduct that would corrupt, mar or spoil the morals of a child. As of 2014, a child has been defined as anyone under the age of 18 at the time of the incident. 

N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a(1): “Abuse and Neglect of a Child”

In order to be convicted of this subsection, the State must prove that the Defendant knowingly caused the child (victim) harm that would make them “abused or neglected”. In addition, the State must prove that the Defendant at the time of the act, knew their conduct would cause the child to be abused or neglected. Abused or neglected can include but is not limited to: making a child inflict unnecessary severe corporal punishment or inflicting unnecessary suffering or pain (both physical or emotional).  As of 2014, a child has been defined as anyone under the age of 18 at the time of the incident. (It used to be the age of 16.)

N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)b: Possession of Child Pornography

To be convicted of this subsection, the State establish that the Defendant knowingly possessed or viewed “any photograph, film, videotape, computer program or file, video game or any other reproduction which depicts a child either engaging in a sexual act or simulation thereof.” This offense only encompasses the possession of child pronography not distributing or manufacturing. For those offenses, please see below.   

All 2nd Degree Felony Endangering the Welfare of a Child Charges:

Sexual Conduct: N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a(1)

  • In order to be convicted under this section of the statute, the State must establish that the Defendant, knowingly engaged in sexual conduct that would “impair or debauch the morals of a child” and that they had or assumed a legal duty to take care of the child. The difference between this subsection and the third degree version addressed above is the fact that the Defendant either had or assumed a legal duty to take care of the child. As of 2014, a child includes anyone who is under the age of 18 at the time of the incident.

Abuse or Neglect: N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a(2)

  • In order to be convicted under this subsection of the statute the State must prove that the Defendant, knowingly caused harm that would make a child “abused or neglected” and that the Defendant had or assumed a legal duty to take care of the child. So in order to prove a second degree felony “abuse and neglect” the State must also show that the Defendant had a legal duty to care for the child or had assumed such duty.

Distributing Child Pornography: N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)

  • Before a Defendant can be convicted of this subsection of the statute, the State must establish that the Defendant knowingly “sold, procured, manufactured, gave, lent, provided, circulated or offered to give any photographs, films or videotapes of a child whom was engaged in a sexual act or simulation thereof”. So unlike the third degree version, this subsection revolves around the distribution of child pornography.

All 1st Degree Felony Endangering the Welfare of a Child Charges:

Manufacturing Child Pornography: N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(3)

  • In order to be convicted of this section of the statute the State must prove that the Defendant knowingly “caused or permitted a child to engage in a sexual act or simulation”. They must also show that the Defendant knew or had reason to know the sexual act would be photographed, filmed or reproduced. So this subsection differs from the distribution of child pornography section as this covers the actual manufacturing of child pornography.

What are the Penalties for Endangering the Welfare of a Child in NJ?

As you can see from reading above, there are three different degrees of endangering the welfare of a child charges in New Jersey. The degree of the offense that the Defendant is charged with will dictate what the potential penalties will be. Here is a breakdown of those penalties.

1st Degree Felony: N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(3)

  • 10 to 20 Years in a State Prison;
  • Fine up to $200,000
  • Felony Criminal Record;
  • Megan’s Law Registry;
  • Parole Supervision for Life.

2nd Degree Felony: N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a(1);  N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a(2);  N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)

  • 5 to 10 Years in a State Prison;
  • Fine up to $150,000
  • Felony Criminal Record;
  • Potential for Megan’s Law Registry depending on the subsection;
  • Potential for Parole Supervision for Life depending on the subsection.

3rd Degree Felony: N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a(1);  N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a(2);  N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)

  • 3 to 5 Years in a State Prison;
  • Fine up to $15,000
  • Felony Criminal Record;
  • Potential for Megan’s Law Registry depending on the subsection;
  • Potential for Parole Supervision for Life depending on the subsection.

Endangering the Welfare of a Child Lawyers in Hamilton NJ

If you have been accused of endangering the welfare of a child, invasion of privacy, aggravated assault, DWI, assault by auto, possession of heroin, possession of cocaine or unlawful possession of a weapon in Mercer County, the Law Offices of Proetta & Oliver can help. Our attorneys are ready and willing to fight to protect your freedom. These are serious criminal offenses that carry with them life changing consequences. If you would like to sit down with one of our attorneys and discuss your potential options then please contact us at (609)789-0779. Our attorneys appear in courts throughout Mercer County including the Mercer County Superior Court, the Hamilton Municipal Court, the East Windsor Municipal Court, the Trenton Municipal Court and the Hopewell Municipal Court.