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Child Crimes: What is Considered Child Abandonment?

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You probably know that deserting a child without an intent to return is considered child abandonment. What you may not know is that child abandonment can happen even when a parent or caregiver remains in the home, if the absence could potentially lead to substantial physical or emotional harm. An example is when a very young child is left alone to care for himself.

Instances of Child Abandonment

If a parent is at home but inattentive, which is often the case with alcoholics, a parent could be convicted of child abandonment charges. Some other instances that could be considered desertion of a child include:

  • Leaving a child with a caregiver without providing for his support, and then failing to communicate with that person for a period of time
  • Failing to maintain regular visitation with a child for six months or more
  • Refusing to follow a program developed by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) that is designed to reunite a parent and child

Criminal Sanctions are Possible

The Texas Penal Code addresses abandoning or endangering a child in Section 22.041. As such, there are criminal sanctions that can be imposed on an individual who is found guilty of this crime. The exact punishment will vary based upon the severity of the circumstances. The degrees of punishment are:

  • State jail felony whenever there was an intent to return for the child
  • Third degree felony when there was no intent to return
  • Second degree felony if the child was abandoned under circumstances that would place him in “imminent danger of death, bodily injury or physical or mental impairment.”

These charges can result in jail time and monetary fines, not to mention the fact that they will remain on your record for some time. They could even prohibit you from owning a firearm, holding public office, or working in certain occupations. If you have other children in your home, they could be removed and placed in foster care until an investigation can be completed.

Speaking with DFPS

Charges are typically brought about after an investigation by the Department of Family and Protective Services into the matter. Failing to answer questions from this agency is normally not in your best interest; however, handling the matter yourself might not be either. You will likely need a defense lawyer who is familiar with child abandonment charges to help you obtain the best possible outcome for your particular situation. Contact Brett A. Podolsky today by calling 713.227.0087.

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Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky
917 Franklin St. Ste 510
Houston, TX 77002