Domestic violence charges in Las Vegas cover a wide variety of crimes and offenses. They include everything from spousal abuse to severe physical assault on the entire family. There is also a plethora of violence cases related to children and youths.
However, some defendants can get confused about what kind of child abuse charges they may be dealing with. After all, it is a broad category of different offenses with their own focuses. Let’s try three of the more common charges in Las Vegas: child abuse, child endangerment, and child neglect.
Differentiating the Three
Broadly speaking, all three are crimes directed against a child. The means, however, vary greatly between all three.
- CHILD ABUSE involves inflicting justifiable physical, mental, and/or emotional pain on a minor under 18 years of age. This means that the defendant interacted directly with the victim, on a regular basis in most cases. This can also involve sexual exploitation.
- CHILD NEGLECT means that the defendant failed to care for a child’s necessities for a time. The severity of this crime depends on how long the neglect went on. Neglect also involves providing inappropriate care for a child.
- CHILD ENDANGERMENT has the defendant putting the child in a risky situation that can potentially lead to serious injury or death. This can either be intentional or unintentional, depending on the circumstances. For example, the defendant either left the child in a room with a dangerous weapon or put them in the company of a known pedophile.
Do They Have Different Penalties?
Despite the different categories, all three charges share the same general penalties, with the same escalation dependent on the severity of the crime. The distinction depends on whether or not the defendant committed the crime willingly, whether or not sexual abuse happened, or whether or not the child suffered significant harm.
An intentional act that leads to harm on the child is classified as a category B felony, and can lead to between two and twenty years in a state prison. However, if sexual abuse was involved, the charge is automatically escalated to a category A felony, which equates to a life sentence with possibility of parole after fifteen years, and registration to the sex offender registry.
An intentional act with no harm on the child is classified as a category B felony so long as there were no prior convictions. This can put the defendant in state prison between one to six years. A repeat offense equates to between two and fifteen years.
An unintentional act that leads to harm for the victim equates to a category B felony, sending the defendant to prison for a maximum of 20 years. If the child was also abused sexually, the penalty involves a life sentence with parole after a decade, and registration in the state’s sexual offenders list.
An unintentional act that does not cause harm to the victim only counts as a gross misdemeanor so long as it is a first offense. The penalties include legal fees and/or nearly a year in jail. Repeat offenders are slapped with a category C felony and will be required to stay in prison up to five years and pay for a maximum of $10,000 in fees at the judge’s discretion.
How it Affects the Defendant
Despite their distinct circumstances, all three types of crimes against children share the same level of penalties due to related factors. The most important thing to consider here is the fact that all circumstances bar one automatically count as a felony, even for first offenders. In addition, most of the charges can lead to life behind bars once proven.
Simply put, no matter which of these a defendant is facing, the possible outcomes will be the same. Unless they can secure a not guilty verdict or have their charges dismissed, a defendant in any of these child-related cases will have a difficult life ahead of them.
Don’t underestimate any child-related charge! They all have severe consequences even for first offenders. Seek the assistance of a veteran defense attorney to help you out.