West Chester Attorney Crimes Against Children
Perhaps no crimes are as aggressively prosecuted in the state of Pennsylvania—aside from murder—than crimes against children. Accusations of crimes against children are on the rise, with such crimes including:
· Child abuse—Under Pennsylvania Code, Sections 4304(a)(1) and (2), any act which is not an accident and results in serious physical injury, any sexual abuse or exploitation, serious physical neglect of a child by prolonged or repeated lack of supervision, or failure to provide the essentials of life for the child constitutes child abuse. If found guilty of the crime of child abuse—a first-degree misdemeanor, unless found guilty of engaging in a course of conduct which continuously endangers the child, then a third-degree felony—the penalties for a misdemeanor conviction include up to five years in prison, and a fine not to exceed $10,000, while the felony conviction could bring a fine up to $15,000 and a prison sentence up to seven years.
· Abandonment of a child—When a parent in the state of Pennsylvania leaves his or her child in the custody of another person, then refuses, for six continuous months, to acknowledge his or her responsibilities as a parent, child abandonment has occurred. In this case, the state, or another relative of the child can petition the court for a termination of the parent’s rights. Further, when a child has been placed in foster care, and the parent either cannot be identified or cannot be located, if the parent fails to retrieve the child for three months, his or her parental rights can be terminated. If a child in the state of Pennsylvania has been placed in the care of a state agency due to abuse or neglect, the parent has six months to address the conditions leading to the removal. If these conditions are not addressed within that time frame, the agency can petition for involuntary termination of parental rights. Finally, if a newborn is abandoned for four continuous months, then the parent may have his or her parental rights terminated (assuming the parent is aware of the newborn’s existence, and fails to provide financial support sufficient to provide for the newborn’s basic needs). Pennsylvania Safe Haven laws allow a parent to turn a newborn, less than 28 days old, over to a health care provider with no fear of being criminally charged. While there is no specific Pennsylvania statute dealing with child abandonment, the offense is charged and punished as endangering the welfare of a child under Pennsylvania Code, Section 4304(1), and may be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor with a potential of up to five years in prison, or a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
· Child neglect—Under Pennsylvania law, the crime of child neglect includes anything which threatens a child’s life or functioning. Physical neglect, such as failing to provide food to the child, leaving the child alone, or leaving the child with another person who ignores the basic physical needs of the child are instances of child neglect. Medical neglect of the child can include failing to take the child for medical check-ups or immunizations, or refusing to follow a doctor’s orders, which were given for the wellbeing of the child. Educational neglect of a child can include failure to register the child for school and refusing to work with the school to ensure the child’s attendance
· Endangering the welfare of minors—A parent who knowingly abandons his or her child by leaving the child without necessary supervision and protection can be charged with endangering the welfare of a child under Pennsylvania Code, Section 4304. Even if a parent simply ran to the corner grocery store, leaving the child at home alone, the parent can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, and, if convicted of the crime can face up to five years in prison, and be assessed a fine as large as $10,000. If the court determines the parent regularly left the child without supervision, the offense can be charged as a third-degree felony which carries penalties of up to seven years in prison, and a fine as large as $15,000.
· Corruption of minors—Under Pennsylvania Code, Section 6301, a person who is eighteen years old or older, and who corrupts or tends to corrupt the morals of a person less than eighteen years old, or who aids, entices or encourages a minor in the commission of a crime, could be charged with corruption of a minor. The offense of corruption of a minor is charged as a third-degree misdemeanor, which could result in up to a year in jail, and a fine as large as $2,500 in the event of a conviction.
· Child pornography—Under Pennsylvania Code, Section 6312, it is a criminal offense to intentionally or knowingly view or possess computer depictions, photos, videos, books or magazines which depict a child under the age of 18 either engaging in a sexual act or simulating those acts. Even if you thought the child was older, this is not a defense to the crime. Child pornography is frequently charged as a federal offense if you viewed or possessed child pornography from the Internet—even downloading child pornography or e-mailing it to another person. If you are being charged with a first offense for child pornography, you could face a third-degree felony, however subsequent charges for the offense will be charged as a second-degree felony. If convicted of a first offense for child pornography in the state of Pennsylvania, you could face up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines, while if you are convicted for a subsequent child pornography offense in Pennsylvania, you could face up to ten years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
Other Pennsylvania crimes against children include statutory rape, unlawful contact with a child, child molestation, sexual exploitation of a child, sexual abuse of a child, and luring a child into a motor vehicle. All of these crimes are serious, with serious penalties, however the crimes against children which are sexual offenses have the harshest penalties. If you are convicted of a sexual crime against a child, you will not only face the penalties for the crime, you will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
If you are facing charges of a crime against a child, you need a highly-experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney on board as soon as you are aware of the charges, or even if you think you might be charged. If you are looking for the best outcome, the best legal strategies and the best options, don’t wait to contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney.
The sex crimes defense attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully represented individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that have been accused of sexual assault crimes. Our Chester County based law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, Exton, Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville and Paoli. Contact us now at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422. Don’t wait—contact an attorney immediately.