NRS 205.508: Nevada Child Endangerment Law – What You Need to Know

When it comes to the safety and well-being of children, the state of Nevada takes it very seriously. There are laws in place to protect children from any form of harm or endangerment. Violating these laws can result in criminal charges which includes incarceration and monetary fines.

One such law is NRS 205.508, commonly known as the Nevada Child Endangerment Law. This law outlines the various forms of child endangerment and their consequences.

Kids are always on the move and the people who are responsible for them must be vigilant at all times.

That doesn’t mean incidents don’t occur; children often get injured simply from playing.

However, when an incident lacks justifiable cause, it can escalate from an unfortunate event to a criminal offense, leading to a messy situation.

In Nevada, child endangerment is a type of child abuse where adults responsible for a minor place the child in a dangerous situation.

There is a significant difference between an accident and intentional harm, which can determine whether there are no charges, misdemeanor charges, or even felony charges. Children often get into situations and accidents frequently occur, but the distinction arises when a reasonable person could have foreseen that the outcome would cause the child mental or physical suffering.

If you have been charged with child endangerment or any form of child abuse, it is crucial to seek legal counsel immediately. This charge can have devastating consequences, not only in terms of criminal repercussions but also impacting personal aspects of your life.

If you have been charged with any forms of child endangerment contact our office today.

Definition of Child Endangerment

According to NRS 205.508, a person commits child endangerment when they willfully expose a child under the age of 18 to unjustifiable risk that may result in physical mental or emotional harm.

It’s important to note that it is irrelevant that the child does not sustain any physical or mental injuries, just that a reasonable person who has foreseen that the situation would cause the child mental or physical suffering.

The law reads as follows:

“A person who is responsible for the safety or welfare of a child pursuant to NRS432B.130 and who permits or allows that child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering as a result of abuse or neglect or to be placed in a situation where the child may suffer physical pain or mental suffering as the result of abuse or neglect.”

Here are a few examples of child endangerment:

  1. A parent leaving a child to be cared for by a known abusive relative
  2. A caregiver allowing a child to play in a hazardous or dangerous location
  3. A guardian transporting a child in a vehicle that is stolen or committing a criminal offense while the child is under the care of the guardian

Leaving a child in a hot car is a separate offense than child endangerment.

How to Fight Child Endangerment Charges

Each criminal case is different and the strategies used to defend cases like child endangerment vary based on the evidence in the case.

There a few typical defense strategies including the following:

  1. False accusations: Vengeful exes sometimes try to place criminal charges on another to get back at them for some reason. These can be challenges in court with expert testimony and cross examination. Another frequent issue is false accusations made by the children themselves. They may even inflict or fabricate injuries to support their claims. These accusations can be contested in court.
  2. Lack of knowledge: You cannot commit the crime of child endangerment if you believe and can reasonably know that the situation is considered safe. If the average person can assume the situation is safe, then the case should be dismissed. A blameless accident is not a criminal matter.
  3. Lack of foreseeable physical or mental harm: the key element is child endangerment charges is that the child was in an environment where they may face physical or mental suffering. If a reasonable person believes that the environment was safe, you should not face charges. It is not a defense that there was no intent. Putting any child in a knowingly dangerous situation qualifies as child endangerment.

What Are the Penalties for Child Endangerment in Nevada

The penalties for a child endangerment charge in Nevada is based on a couple factors:

  1. Your history of any child abuse cases
  2. Whether the child suffered substantial bodily harm or substantial mental injury of a nonccidental nature, and
  3. Whether you willfully caused the child to be endangered

The legal terms of willfully and knowingly permitting play important roles in the penalties for child endangerment.

Willfully, for example, means leaving a toddler home alone is willful endangerment.

Permissive endangerment is leaving the toddler with an abusive relative who you know has a history of abuse

Based on the previous explanations the penalties for child endangerment are as follows:

  1. The suffered substantial bodily injury or mental harm: A category B felony with 2 to 20 years in state prison
  2. The child suffered no substantial harm and the endangerment was a willful act: a category B felony with 1 to 6 years in prison, repeat offenders could face 2 to 15 years in prison.
  3. If the child suffered no substantial harm and the alleged endangerment was permissive: This a gross misdemeanor with a $2000 fine and/or 364 days in jail. Repeat offenders could face a category C felony with 1-5 years in state prison and a possible $10,000 fine.

It would help to note what is considered substantial bodily harm and what is considered substantial mental harm to a child.

  • Substantial mental harm under NRS 200.508 is “an injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity or the emotional condition of a child as evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment of the ability of the child to function within his or her normal range of performance or behavior.”
  • Substantial bodily harm under the same law constitutes “Bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ; or prolonged physical pain.”

Facing Child Endangerment Charges?

If you or someone you know is facing child endangerment charges, contact The Defenders.

The Defenders have a proven track record of getting our clients’ charges dismissed or reduced.

We have a team of lawyers that handle cases including DUI, Domestic Violence, White Collar Crimes and Child Endangerment charges.

Our team will personally investigate your charges and the case against you to determine the best defense. Our strategy will be discussed during your consultation appointment so you will have no doubts about what you could be facing.

If a plea bargain is the best option that will be explained as well.

Our team is dedicated to helping keep our clients’ records clean.

Getting records sealed after a conviction is a good idea and something we offer to our clients.

Record sealing is something that can be done after a certain period of time after the criminal case has closed.

Call The Defenders today if you are facing criminal charges.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is child endangerment?

Child endangerment involves any act or omission that risks a child’s physical, emotional, or mental well-being. This includes leaving children in dangerous situations or with known abusers and allowing them to play in hazardous environments or participate in illegal activities.

How can I defend against child endangerment charges?

Defending child endangerment charges requires a strategic approach due to their complexity and sensitivity. Common defense strategies include proving false accusations, demonstrating a lack of knowledge or intent, showing that a reasonable person would have deemed the situation safe, and emphasizing the absence of foreseeable harm to the child.

What are the penalties for child endangerment in Nevada?

In Nevada, child endangerment penalties vary based on the offender’s history and the harm caused. Severe harm can lead to a category B felony with 2-20 years in prison. Deliberate endangerment without significant harm results in 1-6 years, with repeat offenders facing 2-15 years. Permissive endangerment without substantial harm is a gross misdemeanor, escalating to a category C felony for repeat offenses with 1-5 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

What constitutes substantial bodily or mental harm to a child?

Substantial bodily harm involves severe physical injuries, significant disfigurement, or prolonged impairment of bodily functions, including extended physical pain. Substantial mental harm pertains to serious damage to a child’s intellectual, psychological, or emotional capacity, shown by a significant impairment in their normal behavior or performance. These definitions are essential for assessing the severity of charges and potential penalties.

How can The Defenders help if I am facing child endangerment charges?

The Defenders have a team of experienced lawyers who specialize in handling criminal cases, including child endangerment charges. We will thoroughly investigate your case and develop the best defense strategy for your specific situation. Our goal is to get your charges dismissed or reduced, and we offer assistance with sealing criminal records to help keep them clean in the future. Contact us today if you are facing child endangerment charges.

How do I report child endangerment in Nevada?

If you suspect a child is being endangered in Nevada, it’s crucial to report it immediately. You can contact the Child Protective Services (CPS) or local law enforcement. It’s important to provide as much information and evidence as possible, including specific details about the situation and any potential witnesses. The Division of Child & Family Services will then conduct an investigation. If the investigation determines that the child in question was abused, neglected or endangered the police will be contacted to take further action.

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