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 lawyer ohio criminal defense lawyer joslyn lawAttorney for Child Endangerment Charges in Columbus, Ohio

Sometimes, the adults responsible children can exhibit dangerous and careless behavior that places children in harm’s way. If these actions lead to child endangerment charges, the outcome of such a case could have serious consequences for a person’s future that can change their life forever.

When a person allegedly puts a child’s safety and welfare at risk, Ohio and Franklin County take the matter seriously. Law enforcement and prosecutors likely will seek the harshest measures for child endangerment offenders, including time in jail or prison, high fines, and the loss of custody rights, among other consequences. While facing these charges might feel like the end, we can help you get through this time. You still have a right to protect and defend yourself against these accusations, and our lawyers know what it takes to defend you.

If this is your situation in the Columbus, Ohio area, we encourage you to seek legal representation from a child endangerment attorney near you as soon as possible. Every minute counts, and Joslyn Law Firm’s team is ready to help you consider your legal options. It is important that you know where you stand and how to approach your next move. Our criminal defense team understands the complex charges and issues in child welfare cases and can guide you through the legal process.

Our Lawyers Will Advocate for You in a Columbus Child Endangerment Case

Ohio’s laws on child endangerment dictate a parent and/or guardian’s duty to ensure a child’s health and safety. These laws also apply to anyone who is responsible for taking care of a child, which could include a stepparent or a foster parent. At Joslyn Law Firm, we believe everyone has a right to tell their side of what happened.

We provide clients in criminal cases with legal counsel to help them move forward and protect their way of life. In our 10-plus years of helping Ohio-based clients, we have handled over 20,000 cases. We provided our clients with customized criminal defense strategies that addressed the issues in their cases, protected their rights, and looked out for their best interests. Our reputation extends beyond Ohio. Our criminal defense attorneys have been recognized nationally for our work and commitment to our clients. Our honors and awards include:

  • 10 Best Attorneys – Client Satisfaction from the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys
  • Top Criminal Lawyer from Columbus CEO Magazine
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyers from The National Trial Lawyers Association

We know that child endangerment charges are concerning because they constitute child abuse charges, and you are right to take them seriously. Our child endangerment defense lawyers in Columbus can help you process your situation and determine what to do next. Reach out to us today at (614) 444-1900 for a free and confidential consultation.

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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 2919.22 states that a person who has custody or control of a minor (under 18)—or an individual with a physical or mental disability 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 years old 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 2925.04 or 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

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 depending on the circumstances you could be charged with a felony or misdemeanor. 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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Evidence in Ohio Child Endangerment Cases

The case’s facts will largely determine the outcome of a child endangerment case. To disprove charges in these cases, we will need clear evidence that shows that it did not take place or shows reasonable doubt that it did. This includes:

  • Documented observations about how the child and parent/guardian/caregiver interact
  • Medical records showing how the injuries occurred or likely occurred
  • Statements from the child that show the parent or supervising adult did not endanger their well-being in any way
  • Witness statements from parties who can speak to the defendant’s relationship with the child and dealings with them
  • Expert witnesses, such as a child psychologist or social worker, who can give insight into the child’s emotional or mental state
  • Police reports explaining the incident that is alleged to be child endangerment
  • Any evidence that shows the child was not harmed or in any danger

No two child endangerment cases are the same. Our child endangerment attorney will review your case and determine what evidence you will need to support your defense.

Defenses if Charged With Child Endangerment in Columbus, OH

Our child endangerment defense 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 accusation of child endangerment stemmed from 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.

The Center for Family Safety and Healing

The Center for Family Safety and Healing uses public and private resources to help families with issues involving domestic violence, elder violence, stalking, child abuse and neglect, and teen dating abuse. The center urges social change to stop abuse and offers a forum for education, advocacy, and research. It also addresses issues with a one-stop, coordinated response to adversities families face with the partnerships it has with other agencies and groups.

Franklin County Psychiatric Crisis Line for Youth

Children aged 17 and younger can call the Franklin County Psychiatric Crisis Line at (614) 722-1800. The crisis line, offered by Nationwide Children’s Hospital, is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The hospital recognizes the need for more mental health and substance abuse crisis services for young people. Callers can get help with finding treatment that includes crisis evaluation and stabilization services. The Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board of Franklin County launched this partnership with the hospital to offer crisis care to children and teens.

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Child Endangerment Cases in Ohio

These cases show how recent case law addresses cases involving child endangerment:

State v. Jones: In this 2015 case, Randy and Carissa Jones were convicted on involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of their adopted daughter Tia Jones (T.J.) after she died of a foot infection after her parents did not seek treatment for it. They also were charged with three counts of endangering the child and permitting child abuse. When their trial ended, they were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of child endangerment, and allowing child abuse.

While they each served a 10-year prison sentence for her death, they jointly appealed the decision. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, the Ohio Supreme Court later reinstated their sentences, saying the 8th District Court of Appeals should not have concluded that the couple’s original sentences were too harsh. Instead, the sentences were within the limits of Ohio’s law, and the court ruled in a 6-1 opinion.

Ohio Grandmother Sues Over Toddler’s Death (Maternal Grandmother v. Hamilton County Dpt. of Job and Family Services): Desena Bradley is suing various Hamilton County, Ohio agencies in the death of her granddaughter, Glenara Bates, who died at age 2 in 2014 after “significant signs of abuse” were found on her person, according to court records. The girl’s parents were convicted of the child’s death in 2015.

Bradley maintains that county agencies and caseworkers failed to review claims of abuse before her granddaughter died. The Hamilton County Common Pleas Court dismissed Bradley’s case against the county and agency, saying Glenara wasn’t in Family Services’ care at the time she died and that caseworkers could not be held liable for her death under immunity granted under the law. (Ohio Revised Code Section 2744.03)

However, in November 2021, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Bradley could continue her lawsuits against the county’s agencies, as the Ohio Capital Journal reports. The court determined that an exception can be made to the immunity that state law provides. Bradley will have to prove caseworkers were negligent in handling her granddaughter’s case.

News About Child Endangerment in Ohio

July 13, 2022

Hillard Man Sentenced to 2 ½ Years in Prison for Fentanyl Death of 2-Month-Old Son

Ehren Schumacher of Hilliard, Ohio was recently sentenced to two years and six months for the fentanyl-related death of his 2-month-old son, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Among the charges is one count of endangering children, a third-degree felony, for the death of Rhaden Schumacher.

The late child’s mother is in jail for her son’s death. She recently pleaded guilty to one count of child endangerment and will also serve the same sentence. Both parents struggle with substance abuse and addiction, according to the newspaper’s report.

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.

Q. Can You Be Charged With Child Endangerment if You Are Not the Child’s Parent?

Yes, you can. Generally, children left in an adult’s care should be kept from harm, and that responsibility falls on the adult. A person can face child endangerment charges if they leave a child alone unsupervised in a place where there are weapons or any other unsafe situation. Leaving children alone with an adult with a history of sexual offenses is also an example of endangering a child’s welfare.
Adults who give children alcohol, drugs, or other harmful substances can get into trouble with the law. So can those who drive while under the influence with a child as a passenger in a vehicle. Failing to report child abuse or neglect as well as engaging in domestic violence in the presence of children can lead to endangerment charges.

Q: Who Else Can Face Child Endangerment Charges Besides Parents or Guardians?

Anyone responsible for the child’s well-being can be charged with child endangerment. This could be just about anyone—teachers, after-school care counselors, camp counselors, babysitters, and other family members, such as an aunt or grandparent, among many others.

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Child Endangerment Defense Lawyer Near You 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 or use our contact us form.

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  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
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