Top Official Facing Child Endangerment Charges in California
A top official with the City of Los Angeles' Board of Public Works is under investigation by the LAPD after her daughter, under the age of 12, was found unattended at City Hall recently.
Anaheim Criminal Defense Attorney Houman Fakhimi understands that while the official has not yet been arrested, she is being investigated for suspected child endangerment, a charge she is already facing in prior case following a DUI arrest.
Child endangerment charges are among the most broad in that much of is subject to interpretation. There aren't necessarily bruises or even any physical injury that can serve as evidence of the crime. Endangerment is a charge based on what could have happened.
California Penal Code 273a addresses the charge of child endangerment. Simply stated, child endangerment is when someone either places a child in a dangerous situation or causes the child to be placed in a dangerous situation without taking some step to protect the child.
Specifically, prosecutors have to show that you willfully inflicted some measure of unjustifiable mental suffering or physical pain on someone under the age of 18 or that you willfully caused or through criminal negligence permitted a child to endure unjustifiable mental suffering or physical pain. Alternately, the prosecutors could show that you had control or care of the child and you caused them to be placed in a situation where his or her health may have been endangered.
The charge can be filed either as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on how egregious prosecutors deem the violation. As a misdemeanor, the charge carries up to a year in jail. As a felony, you could be facing up to 10 years in prison.
Not to mention, you stand the possibility of losing custody and/or visitation rights regarding your children. Two convictions on this same charge would put your future custody rights in serious jeopardy.
In this case, the defendant will answer to the old charges, from December of last year, in court next month.
Police officers reportedly found the official's daughter at City Hall just before midnight. From there, officers took her to the police department and tried to locate her mother, a single parent. The mother arrived at the station around 2 a.m.
While not commenting specifically on the events surrounding the situation, the woman did say that she is a single parent, often works late at City Hall and, sometimes, her daughter accompanies her.
The incident reportedly took place the same night as a party was thrown at City Hall to raise funds for restoration of city landmarks.
While the investigation is ongoing, she has been placed on leave from her $133,000-a-year position, pending the outcome of both cases.
Because cases such as this can have a severe negative impact on your life and your future, you should contact an attorney as soon as you understand an investigation has begun - even if you haven't yet been arrested.
Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are charged with a crime in Orange County.