A Guide to First Offense Child Endangerment in Louisiana: What to Expect
The state of Louisiana takes the welfare of children and minors very seriously, as they are expected to be cared for by their parents or guardians. Parents, guardians, and any other adults that put the welfare of a child at risk can be charged with child endangerment.
Considering that anyone can be charged with child endangerment, it is important to understand what constitutes it and the punishment sanctioned by law for first-time and repeat offenders.
What Constitutes Child Endangerment in Louisiana?
The term "child endangerment'' is used rather broadly in Louisiana to refer to a group of crimes involving endangering or harming a child. U.S. Legal Definitions states that "Child Endangerment refers to an act or omission that renders a child to psychological, emotional or physical abuse.”
When such an act or omission leads to child abuse, it is usually a misdemeanor, but this can change depending on the gravity of the crime. If the level of endangerment and the resulting mental or physical illness is serious, the act becomes a felony.
Child Endangerment in Louisiana: How Does the State Define It?
Subsection B of Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:98 is known as the “Child Endangerment Law.” According to the law, for a person to be convicted of this charge, they must have been proven to have operated a motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance when any of the following conditions exist:
The operator is under the influence of alcoholic beverages.(ii) The operator's blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more by weight based on grams of alcohol per one hundred cubic centimeters of blood.
The operator is under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V as set forth in R.S. 40:964.
The operator is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances and legally obtainable with or without a prescription.
The operator is under the influence of one or more drugs that are not controlled dangerous substances and that are legally obtainable with or without a prescription.
If a person has been found guilty of the abovementioned, and it is also proven that a minor child twelve years of age or younger was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of intoxication, they have committed the crime of child endangerment.
In simple terms, child endangerment occurs when a person operates a vehicle with a minor inside while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs.
Legal Penalties for First Offense Child Endangerment
According to the Louisiana Child Endangerment Law, if an offender is found guilty of child endangerment, the judge cannot suspend the execution of the minimum mandatory sentence provided under the law.
This means that when the state proves, in addition to the elements of the crime of DWI as set forth in in Louisiana Revised Statutes, 14:98, that a minor child twelve years of age or younger was a passenger in the motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of motorized conveyance at the time of the commission of the offense, the offender must spend a certain number of days in jail as required by the statute.
For example, after being convicted of a DWI first offense with child endangerment, the offender must be imprisoned for not less than ten days nor more than six months. With a child endangerment conviction, the judge must sentence the offender to 10 days in jail because that minimum sentence cannot be suspended.
Can You Lose Your License if You’re Found Guilty of First Offense Child Endangerment?
Yes. A first-offense child endangerment conviction may result in losing your license because under La. R.S. 32:414, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC) must suspend the license of any person for a period of twelve months when it receives notice from a Louisiana court that the person has been convicted of DWI. This is because a conviction for a first offense child endangerment is a conviction for a first offense DWI.
However, the convicted motorist can still drive their car if the motorist proves to the DPSC that his motor vehicle has been equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device. With a restricted license from the DPSC, it may designate the routes over which and the times during which the motorist shall be permitted to operate the designated motor vehicles in order to earn his livelihood.
An ignition interlock will not allow your car to start unless you pass a breath sample test to prove you’ve not been drinking. However, if the offender had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.20 percent or more, the offender's driver's license shall be suspended for two years. However, once a person is convicted more than once, they face harsher penalties.
A “child endangerment” charge provides a mandatory jail sentence for an "operating while intoxicated" charge and should be treated with care. If you are facing a child endangerment charge, you need to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney specializing in child endangerment charges.
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Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case. The first consultation can be in person or it can be virtual, on the Internet. Call Gaynell Williams today at (504) 302-2462 for a free consultation as soon as possible. We will work around your schedule. New Orleans lawyers Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law have offices in Gretna and Downtown New Orleans by appointment only.
This information has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may affect your legal rights.