Child Endangerment

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 15,000 criminal cases and are consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s top criminal defense firms. We are highly experienced child endangerment lawyers in Columbus, OH and all of central Ohio. Experience matters when dealing with these cases, which prosecutors and judges handle differently on a case-by-case basis. We know what to expect and what to do to get the best result possible.

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Child Endangerment Defense Lawyer in Columbus, OH

When a person allegedly puts a child’s safety and welfare at risk, Franklin County courts take the matter seriously. Law enforcement and prosecutors will do everything in their power to make an accused child endangerment offender pay the fullest price for their actions. This could include a jail term, steep fines, and the loss of custody rights.

If you have been arrested for or charged with child endangerment in Ohio, speak with a child endangerment defense lawyer in Columbus who has extensive experience defending those accused of this type of offense. Joslyn Law Firm has handled more than 20,000 criminal cases in central Ohio.

Brian Joslyn is one of Ohio’s most highly recognized and awarded criminal defense attorneys. He has received honors from such esteemed institutions as the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Super Lawyers legal rating service, and Columbus CEO Magazine, among others.

Joslyn also has earned AV Preeminent status with the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. This designation is given only to attorneys who are ranked at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards by their peers of attorneys and judges.

Defense Lawyer for Child Endangerment in Columbus, OH

Ohio’s laws on child endangerment (Ohio Revised Code Section 2919.22) account for a parent and/or guardian’s duty to ensure their child’s health and safety. Our defense attorneys represent those accused of child abuse or neglect or child endangerment. We investigate and retrieve evidence in support of our defense case. In fact, there are several legal defenses we may raise depending on the circumstances.

Furthermore, our legal team’s deep familiarity with Columbus courts and staff, from judges and prosecutors to bailiffs and probation officers. We will devise a strategy to pursue the best outcome for your case.

We Know How to Protect Your Rights When Accused of Child Endangerment

Ohio’s criminal statute defines many ways in which a person could be considered guilty of child endangerment. Although the prosecution bears the burden of proof, it is important that your legal defense understands which types of evidence are substantial in proving guilt beyond all reasonable doubt.

Work with a child endangerment defense lawyer who has a demonstrated knowledge of Ohio’s Revised Code. Brian Joslyn is widely regarded as a subject matter expert for journalists covering stories on criminal law. Reporters from The Columbus Dispatch, The Plain Dealer, NBC4, ABC 6, FOX28, and 10 WBNS go to him when they need to understand how the state’s criminal laws work.

Let Joslyn and our criminal defense attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm put our knowledge and experience with child endangerment, domestic violence, and other criminal defense cases to work to get results for you, as we have so many other clients. Call our firm today for a free consultation: (614) 444-1900.

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Information Center for Child Endangerment in Columbus, OH

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Overview of Child Endangerment in Ohio

Ohio Revised Code Section 291.22 states that a person who has custody or control of a minor—an individual who is physically or mentally disabled and under the age of 21—owes their ward a duty of care, protection, and support. The law further states that such a parent or guardian is guilty of child endangerment when they create a substantial risk to the safety or health of a minor in their care by failing to fulfill their duty of protection or support.

A parent, custodian, or guardian is also guilty of child endangerment when they do any of the following to a minor child in their care or to a physically or mentally disabled person under 21 who is in the custodian’s care:

  • Abuse them
  • Cruelly abuse or torture them
  • Administer physical discipline or physical restraint for long periods, or in a cruel manner when the punishment exceeds what the circumstances dictate and create substantial risk of harm to the child
  • Administer such unwarranted discipline, in a repeated manner, when these actions could seriously impede the child’s mental or physical development
  • Force, encourage, or allow a child to participate in a sexual or obscene production or performance
  • Permit a child to be within 100 feet of the illegal manufacture of drugs, as per Ohio Revised Code Section 04or 2925.041
  • Operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.19) while the child is in the vehicle


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Penalties for Child Endangerment in Columbus, OH

A person convicted of child endangerment in Ohio faces the possibility of time behind bars, as well as hefty fines. However, not all offenses are charged the same. Correspondingly, each charge for child endangerment involves a different level of punishment. Consider the following breakdown of penalties as they correspond to a range of circumstances:

Putting Your Child at Substantial Risk of Danger

  • Charge: First-degree misdemeanor
  • Sentence: Up to 180 days in jail
  • Fine: Up to $1,000

With a Prior Conviction for Abuse, Neglect, Abandonment, or Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

  • Charge: Fourth-degree felony
  • Sentence: Up to 12 months in prison
  • Fine: Up to $5,000

If the Child Suffers Serious Injury from the Act(s) of Child Endangerment

  • Charge: Third-degree felony
  • Sentence: Up to five years in prison
  • Fine: Up to $10,000

If You Abused the Child, Causing Serious Physical Harm

  • Charge: Second-degree felony
  • Sentence: Up to eight years in prison
  • Fine: Up to $15,000

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Defenses if Charged with Child Endangerment in Columbus, OH

Our lawyers will investigate your case, talking to you and other witnesses and reviewing the prosecution’s evidence against you. We will raise a defense best suited for a positive outcome. Possible defenses against allegations of child endangerment include:

Child’s Injury Did Not Result from Abuse

Perhaps a child in your care suffered injury from an accident. If we can show, for example, that they fell off their bike or were inadvertently burned by accidentally knocking over a bowl of hot soup, a court is unlikely to convict you of abuse.

Parental Right to Discipline

Ohio law says it is a parent’s right to use corporal punishment, such as spanking, to discipline a child (within certain limitations). If the actions that led to your being accused of child endangerment stemmed from your physically punishing your child in a reasonable manner, our attorneys can raise this defense.

False Allegations

This is a common defense against child endangerment, especially in cases where the accused and the accuser have a hostile relationship. For example, if you are in the process of divorcing your spouse, and they accuse you of child endangerment, we could possibly raise the defense that your spouse lied to gain an advantage for child custody.

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

Sometimes, a parent or other caregiver (typically a mother) suffers from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP). This condition compels the caregiver to lie about or promote sickness in a child in an attempt to get attention or sympathy for themselves. If our attorneys can get psychological documentation to support MSBP in your case, we could raise it as a defense against child endangerment. (Read more about MSBP on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention website).

Religious Beliefs

In some faiths, a parent will refuse medical care for their sick child because their religion forbids it. If a parent chooses to help their child through prayer, rather than medical science, Ohio does not consider the parent to be guilty of child endangerment.

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Resources for Child Endangerment in Columbus, OH

Prevent Child Abuse: Ohio Chapter

The Ohio chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America dedicates itself to stopping child neglect and abuse. This website gives useful information in the form of parenting tips and a blog. The site also tells you how you can get involved in the cause of child abuse prevention.

Ohio Revised Code Section 2919.22

This web page outlines Ohio Revised Code Section 2919.22 – Child Endangerment. Go here to learn state laws regarding child abuse, neglect, and other forms of endangerment. The statute clearly outlines how various degrees of a child endangerment offense are differentiated and the penalties associated with each type of charge.

Of particular use is a list of legal definitions for terms used throughout this section of the code. Knowing these definitions will help you better understand the criminal charge you face.

Franklin County Law Library: Child Welfare Law in Ohio: Adjudicatory Hearing

The Franklin County Law Library offers a wealth of information on the judicial procedure in Columbus and elsewhere throughout the county. Read this page, in particular, to learn about the adjudicatory hearing in Ohio child welfare cases. This hearing requires that the alleging party produce sufficient evidence of abuse or neglect, in strict compliance with the Rules of Evidence.

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention: Recognizing When a Child’s Injury or Illness Is Caused by Abuse

This guide offers useful information that can help you determine whether a child is being abused or mistreated. The publication is a resource for law enforcement and first responders who need indicators of whether a child’s injury resulted from accidental injury or abuse. Read the guide to learn how police address their investigations of child abuse and how they assess a parent or caretaker when a child is injured.

Franklin County Children Services

Franklin County’s Children Services investigates reports of child abuse and neglect. If you want to report an incident, you can call the 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline at (614) 229-7000. You can also visit this website to learn about the state of child abuse in Franklin County and access links to such information as to how to help someone you think is being abused and how to carefully choose a partner.

Office of the Ohio Public Defender

Visit this site to read illuminating summaries of child endangerment cases in Ohio. You might be able to draw parallels between your case and some of the cases outlined on this website to better prepare for what to expect on the road ahead.

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News about Child Endangerment in Ohio

July 1, 2021

“Former Athens County Deputy Pleads Guilty in Connection to Child Abuse Case”

10 WBNS reports that Jimmy Childs, a former sheriff’s deputy from Athens County, located southeast of Columbus, pleaded guilty after being charged with obstruction of justice and evidence tampering in connection with a case of sexual abuse. Childs allegedly deleted a phone conversation with a family member who had been indicted on sexual abuse charges.

Childs is also accused of lying during the investigation of the abuse. The prosecutor is dismissing the tampering with evidence and obstructing evidence charges. Childs will testify for the prosecution against his family members.

June 28, 2021

“Two Arrested Overdosing in Car with Child in Circleville”

A man and woman have been charged with endangering a child (first-degree misdemeanor) after police discovered the couple overdosing in their car with their two-year-old child, according to The Scioto Post.

Officers also saw fentanyl in plain view, as well as uncapped syringes and other drug paraphernalia within the child’s reach. Besides child endangerment, Gabrielle Preston and Eric Tackett were charged with possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony.

May 9, 2021

“Deborah Bellar Given $1 Million Bond in Athens County Child Abuse Case”

NBC4 gives this update of a child abuse case in Athens County, where Deborah Bellar was given a $1 million bond. Bellar pleaded not guilty to charges that she and family members face pertaining to sexually abusing children. The charges include engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity (second-degree felony) and two charges of child endangerment (third-degree felonies).

The Chief assistant prosecutor justified the high bond based on Bellar’s “refusal to accept …. that there was sexual abuse going on in the home” and the defendant’s helping to conceal the abuse.

March 1, 2021

“3 Face Child Endangerment Charges After 4-Year-Old Hospitalized in Scioto County”

A four-year-old child wound up in a hospital emergency room located in Scioto County, south of Columbus, after his non-custodial mother found him bruised and injured at the home of the child’s father’s girlfriend, reports FOX 28. The child’s father had been incarcerated, and the child was left with the girlfriend.

The child endured his injuries for a minimum of four days. The three residents at the home where the boy was found have been charged in connection with child endangerment, as follows: Kaitlene Bice with one count of child endangerment; William Bice, Jr., and Mary Ann Bice with complicity to child endangerment.

September 14, 2020

“Reporting of Child Abuse Fell in Ohio as COVID Kept Kids From School”

The Columbus Dispatch reports that there were 20,597 fewer reports of child abuse and neglect in the state when compared to this same time last year. According to the article, the decrease is likely due to the pandemic. With children out of the school environment, fewer teachers and school personnel were able to spot signs of abuse and report them, as they are required to do.

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FAQs about Child Endangerment in Franklin County

Q. Is Child Endangerment a Felony in Ohio?

In Ohio, a child endangerment offense can be charged as a felony if there is a prior conviction for abuse or neglect (fourth-degree felony); if the endangerment causes the child serious injury (third-degree felony); or if the offender abused the child, causing them to suffer serious physical harm (second-degree felony).

Q. How Much Jail Time Do You Get for Child Endangerment in Ohio?

In Ohio, child endangerment can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, which could mean up to 180 days in jail. If the offense is charged as a felony, this could lead to prison time—anywhere between 12 months for a fourth-degree felony up to eight years for a second-degree felony.

Q. Do I Have to Pay a Fine if I Am Convicted of Child Endangerment?

Yes, you could face a fine for a child endangerment conviction. The amount of the fines depends on how the offense was charged. In the worst-case scenario—a second-degree felony conviction—you could face a fine of up to $15,000.

Q. How Long Does CPS Have to Investigate in Ohio?

When Child Protective Services receives a report of abuse or neglect, they have around 45 days to investigate. The investigation could involve talking to the child, family members, and other people that CPS deems appropriate. If the investigator decides the child is suffering abuse or is at risk for abuse, the investigator will refer the case to the appropriate parties—possibly family court or a local service agency.

Q. What Counts as Child Neglect in Ohio?

In Ohio, failure to fulfill the duty of care as a parent or caregiver counts as child neglect. This includes providing the basic necessities to ensure a child’s proper growth and development. If a parent fails to adequately feed their child, provide medical care when needed, or protect their child from chronic uncleanliness, their actions could make them guilty of child neglect in the eyes of the law.

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Child Endangerment Defense Lawyer in Columbus, OH

If you have been accused of child endangerment in Columbus, act swiftly to retain legal counsel from our defense lawyers. The penalties and collateral consequences for a conviction are high, so put your case in the hands of a criminal defense lawyer with experience handling this type of case.

Our lawyers are here to protect your rights and your reputation with our proven legal services. Call Joslyn Law Firm today at (614) 444-1900 for a free consultation.

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  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional exellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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