Articles Tagged with child endangerment

Audience_-_Alberti_Flea_Circus,_MerleFest_2013Child endangerment laws in Chicago have not always had the best reception given the fact they have the power to take children away from their biological parents and even throw those parents in prison. There are cases where the facts are so harrowing that even the defense attorney is moved to take more precautions than usual due to public outcry. The principles of the laws as they stand are fairly simple. First and foremost, children are recognized as vulnerable members of society who need and deserve some level of protection. The highest priority for the law enforcement agencies is the protection of the rights and interests of the child in question even if that means the breakup of the natural family. The tricky element is that the enforcement authorities are not infallible. They do make mistakes and when they do, all hell breaks loose with the public ready to pounce.

Controversial Laws with Far-Reaching Consequences for All Involved

The case may have civil, family and criminal court elements all mixed together. For example, the parent or guardian may end up as a defendant in a serious criminal case that could lead to life imprisonment in the worst cases. In sentencing, the courts are guided by the need to express public outrage at the circumstances of the case and also deter others who might be thinking of doing the same. That does not mean that the person who has been charged with a stigmatizing crime such as child endangerment loses their human rights. For example, the presumption of innocence is embedded in the law but is often broken by the media who enjoy the more sensational aspects of these cases. That is how these cases have become so terrifying that defendants often fail to mount an effective defense even if all other indications are that they are not guilty of the crime for which they have been accused.

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The definition of child endangerment in Illinois is broad and therefore child endangerment charges are filed under a number of different circumstances. Under Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/12C-5, a person endangers the life of a child if he or she knowingly:

  • Causes or allows a child under 18-years-old to be endangered, or
  • Causes or allows a child to be placed in circumstances that endanger the child’s life or health.