Legal Updates

Endangering Welfare Of A Child: When Is It A Crime Not To Act?

People are not often punished for what they fail to do.  They are punished for what they do.

Generally speaking, failure to take action is not criminal.  Failure to act can expose one to civil liability.  The negligence concept holds accountable professionals who fail to maintain a reasonable standard of care in the course of their duties.  Failure to act may result in civil damages. Failure to act does not often result in criminal charges.

The crime of Endangering The Welfare of a Child is an exception to this principle.

Strictly read, you can be convicted of this crime not for what you do, but for what you fail to do.  The law recognizes that parents and guardians have a duty of care to minors in their supervision.  Breach of this duty can result in criminal consequences.

Specifically, one may be convicted of Endangering Welfare of a Child where:

The defendants had a duty of care, protection or support;

The act is done knowingly.  The actor is aware that his or her conduct will cause a particular result;

The defendant is a parent, guardian, or person supervising the welfare of the child under the age of 18;

The child is under the age of 18.

It is important to note that not all acts or omissions punishable under this statute are tried.  Consult with a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney to evaluate you exposure under the statute.  Schedule a free consultation at (267) 535-9776.