Abandoning or Endangering a Child

Having a child is a huge responsibility as any parent would know. Children have a variety of mental, physical, and emotional needs that must be meet in order to grow into a successful adult. These needs can be expensive, time-consuming, and for some difficult to provide. In fact, according to The Guardian, over 60,000 Houston families are currently on government assistance and most of them have at least one minor child.

Parents, legal guardians, and caretakers are expected to support their children to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, sometimes outside perspectives may look at a person struggling to take care of their family and interpret it as abuse. In these cases, if a complaint is filed, the parent could potentially lose their child on the basis of child abandonment or endangerment. The parent may also be subject to statutory penalties upon conviction for child endangerment including time behind bars and steep court fines.

If you or someone you know has been accused of abandoning or endangering your child, we highly encourage you to seek legal representation as soon as possible.

Houston Child Endangerment Attorney | Child Abandonment Laws in Texas

Parents and legal guardians must create a safe environment for their child(ren) and ensure all their emotional, physical, and mental needs are met. If a criminal complaint is filed stating the person intentionally failed to provide or put the child in a dubious situation, then the parent or guardian may be charged with abandoning or endangering a child.

If you have been charged with child endangerment, call The Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken has decades of experience with all types of child abuse and domestic violence cases including neglect and endangerment. He understands how complicated family matters can be. That is why he treats each client with the utmost care and respect while handling their case. Attorney Benken is also well-versed in criminal defense and can utilize his skills, resources, and past experience to build a formidable defense for you.

Call The Benken Law Firm today at (713) 223 - 4051 to set up your first consultation free of charge. The Benken Law Firm accepts clients throughout all parts of Harris County and Houston including Woodland Heights, Southside Place, Braeswood Place, The Heights, and Downtown Houston.

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Child Endangerment Under the Texas Penal Code

Under the Texas Penal Code, parents or legal guardians of a child must follow certain regulations and rules. One of these include protecting the child or children from hazardous situations and ensuring they are not alone for long periods of time. Endangering your child by putting them near a substantial risk or abandoning them for a lengthy period is considered a crime under the Texas Penal Code. In this context, the term “abandon” is defined as leaving a child in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care.

According to the Texas Penal Code Section 22.041, the elements for abandoning or endangering a child include the following:

  • Abandoning a child under the age of 15 intentionally under circumstances where the child could be exposed to an unreasonable risk of harm
  • Knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally engage in activity that places the child (younger than 15) in imminent danger of bodily injury, physical or mental impairment, or death

Under the Texas Penal Code, a child is in imminent danger of injury, impairment, or death if:

  • They were in close proximity or had easy access to methamphetamines and lab results show that there is a presceen of meth in the child’s system
  • Inhaled, ingested, or introduced a controlled substance from Penalty Group 1 in the presence or while caring for the child
  • Manufactured or possesses in any way methamphetamine near the presence of the child or children

Penalty Group I controlled substances are considered to have a high risk of abuse and little presence in the medical field. Many opiates and high-risk drugs can be found under the Texas Penalty Group I. Some of these include, but are not limited to:

  • Ketamine
  • Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)
  • Methamphetamine
  • Heroin
  • Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Cocaine

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Is Child Endangerment a Felony in Texas?

The severity of child endangerment penalties will depend on the facts of your case. If the court finds you abandoned your child without any reasonable means but had an intent to return, then you’ll face a state jail felony. You’ll also face a state jail felony if you intentionally, knowingly, or with criminal negligence engaged in conduct that put your child or children at risk. The maximum punishment for a state jail felony includes:

  • Up to 2 years in state jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000

If you had no intent to return to the child, then your crime will be reclassified to a third-degree felony. The maximum penalty for a third-degree felony includes:

  • Up to 20 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

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Additional Resources

Texas Care for Children – Visit the official website for the non-profit, non-partisan and multi-issue children’s policy organization known as Texas Care for Children. Access the site to learn more about child abandonment and how the organization plans to tackle the problem of child neglect. Use this resource to find self-help links, learn what policies they are promoting, and how to get involved with TCC.

Texas Laws for Child Endangerment – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to learn more about child abuse laws including child abandonment or endangerment. Access the site to learn more about the elements of the crime, possible enhancements, and other important information you may need.


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Harris County Lawyer for Child Endangerment and Abandonment

If you or someone you know has been arrested for child endangerment or abandonment, it’s within your best interest to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm. Attorney Brian Benken has been practicing for years in the Harris County area and understands the ins and outs of crimes concerning children.

Call The Benken Law Firm today at (713) 223 - 4051 to set up your first consultation with Houston child abandonment lawyer Brain Benken. His office is located in Houston, but he accepts clients in all parts of Harris County.


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(713) 223 - 4051
Benken Law