Dynamics of a Maryland Child Endangerment Case
An individual may find themselves under arrest after some sort of investigation for child endangerment in Maryland, oftentimes done by DSS or a police officer after being initiated by a teacher or somebody else who has contact with the child.
To best understand the dynamics involved in a Maryland child endangerment charge and to defend against any sort of criminal penalties, an individual should contact a Maryland domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible.
There could be two different issues that the defendant would be dealing with at the same time when encountering the Maryland child endangerment arrest process.
One would be the fact that they have been arrested for a criminal charge and they now have to be prepared to possibly defend themselves in court. Secondly, the Department of Social Services will probably step in and remove the child from that person’s care.
The child may be given to another family member or placed in foster care. The Department of Social Services is going to have to follow their protocol about keeping the child safe, and under what circumstances they might consider allowing the caregiver to, if it is possible, reunify with the child. This is an important dynamic to understand in a Maryland child endangerment case.
Sometimes, depending on the circumstances, a civil matter can be brought where an attempt will be made to terminate the parental rights of a person who neglects or abuses a minor if they are the parent. There are a lot of different potential civil portions of a child endangerment case that may take place after the Maryland child endangerment arrest process. This will all take place at the same time as a criminal case.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Charge
If what is being alleged is neglect, which is the intentional failure to provide the necessary things for the child, that typically is considered a misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of five years and/or a fine not exceeding $5,000.
If the allegation is more than just neglect, for example, child abuse whether physical or sexual, the crime is a felony that carries a much greater penalty of up to a maximum of 25 years.
Hearing the Case
Misdemeanors are typically held in District Court. The defendant would have the right to a jury trial if they chose to. If it is, the case would be brought in District Court and could stay there.
It is also important to know that sometimes, those charges could be brought in the same charging document, so that misdemeanor could be charged along with the felony of abuse. In that scenario, the case would be heard in a circuit court, because that is the court that has jurisdiction over felonies.
Allegation of Sexual Abuse
Any case where there is an allegation that the child was sexually abused, that person would be charged under the felony of sexual abuse of a minor. That would be heard in the circuit court and carries a substantial penalty of up 25 years.
If the case does not involve an allegation of sexual contact or sexual abuse, then it would either be a charge of physical child abuse or a charge of neglect of a minor. To best understand these particular dynamics associated with a Maryland child endangerment case, contact an attorney immediately.