Since children are vulnerable, Illinois law aims to ensure the best interest of every child is always a top priority. When a person is charged with child endangerment, the state’s criminal justice system seeks to inflict severe punishment to deter individuals from harming or posing a serious risk of harm to children.
Illinois Child Endangerment Laws
According to Illinois law, a person may be found guilty of child endangerment if he or her knowingly:
- Causes, allows, or permits the life or health of a child under 18 years old to be endangered
- Causes, allows, or permits a child to be placed in circumstances which endanger the child’s life or health
Examples of child endangerment include, but not limited to, the following:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child under 18 years of age as a passenger
- Possessing or using drugs in front of a child under 18 years old
- Leaving a child who is six years of age or younger in an unattended motor vehicle for over 10 minutes
- Leaving a child under 18 years old in an abandoned home or building
- Failing to remove a child under 18 years old from a violent or abusive environment
A conviction of child endangerment is considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to $2,500. If the convicted person is a parent, the sentence may be probation. A second or subsequent conviction of child endangerment is a Class 3 felony, which is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years.
How a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You
In most cases, those charged with child endangerment are worried about the expenses of hiring professional legal assistance. Although quality legal representation comes at a price, the risk of going to prison and obtaining a permanent mark on your criminal record is not worth the savings associated with a public defender.
In addition, due to the time constraints and the overwhelming amount of cases public defenders often handle, there may not be enough time to obtain the most favorable results possible. On many occasions, a public defender will attempt to reach a plea deal, as opposed to complete dismissal of your entire case.
It is also imperative to remember that parents may lose their parental rights upon conviction of child endangerment, depending on the severity and nature of the case. When parental rights are on the line, having the best legal counsel possible is necessary.