California Child Endangerment Lawyers – PC 273a

Are You Seeking a Child Endangerment Attorney in California?

In the state of California, crimes involving children are prosecuted very aggressively. A child endangerment conviction in California can change your life completely. Upon conviction, you could face up to six years in state prison, a $10,000 fine and loss of child custody.

California’s all-encompassing child endangerment laws not only cover physical pain and suffering, but mental suffering as well. Parents and legal guardians are often accused of child endangerment. Teachers and coaches are also commonly accused based upon their disciplinary actions. If you or a loved one is facing a child endangerment charge, we urge you to hire an experienced Wallin & Klarich child endangerment attorney to review your case and fight the charges against you.

Read below for more information on California child endangerment laws or simply pick up the phone and call (877) 466-5245 for free, immediate advice from an expert California child endangerment lawyer.

Why Hire Wallin & Klarich?


The success of our child endangerment defense firm has helped us achieve the highest of merits, including a 5 out of 5 AV rating on, a 10 out of 10 rating on, and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

For over 40 years, the California child endangerment lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have helped many people like you get the best results in their case. Here are just a few testimonials provided by some of our previous clients:

“I was charged with child abuse and a misdemeanor complaint was filed against me. I proclaimed my innocence and entered a plea of NOT GULITY. I sought the services of the Wallin & Klarich law firm who willingly took on my case. The firm provided me with the best counsel that they had on their staff. My Wallin & Klarich attorney set my case for Jury Trial and gave a tenacious and vigorous defense, which resulted in a dismissal of all the charges.

Wallin & Klarich attorney’s professionalism, care and concern for myself and my family throughout this ordeal, made me feel like more than just another client. They made me feel like I had a friend and advocate that would fight for me with every available resource. Which proved true in the end as I was exonerated. My attorney is most certainly an asset to the partners at Wallin & Klarich. I will highly recommend their services to anyone who inquires about hiring an attorney.”

-I. J. W.

“I was charged with multiple felony counts. I was concerned about going to jail on my case. My attorney fought really hard to get me a good result. I was exposed to 4 years 8 months state prison. My lawyer was able to convince both the prosecutor and the Superior Court Judge to allow me to do a jail alternative program out of custody with some community service. I am very, very, pleased with my representation by Wallin & Klarich.”


“I was charged with child annoyance, which required registration and possible jail time. I was very thankful at the whole outcome. WK met my expectations. I was very happy with the outcome and my attorney. I am very happy with the outcome since I do not have to register and there is no jail time, with charges reduced. I would definitely recommend WK to anyone else.”


Call Wallin & Klarich Today

You can place your trust in Wallin & Klarich. Our knowledgeable California child endangerment lawyers are committed to defending your rights and your freedom. Call us today for immediate help on your child endangerment case.

For more information on child endangerment laws, read below or simply pick up the phone and speak to one of our skilled child endangerment defense attorneys today.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation.

What is Child Endangerment? – California Penal Code Section 273a

Under California Penal Code Section 273a, it is illegal to do any of the following:

  • Cause or permit a child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering;
  • Willfully cause or permit a child in your care to be injured; or
  • Willfully cause or permit a child to be placed in a dangerous situation.

“Willfully” means willingly or on purpose. It does not necessarily mean that you specifically intended to break the law or cause any harm.

“Unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering” means pain or suffering that is not reasonably necessary or excessive under the circumstances.

Examples of a “dangerous situation” include, but are not limited to:

  • Leaving dangerous weapons, including loaded guns and knives, within a child’s reach;
  • Negligently leaving a child with a person whom you know has a history of abusive behavior; or
  • Failing to get medical treatment for a sick or injured child.

Unlike the crime of child abuse, child endangerment does not require that a child suffer an actual injury. In essence, any unjustifiable physical or mental harm to a child may result in a child endangerment charge.

What Must the Prosecution Prove for a Child Endangerment Conviction?

Parent Arrested for Child Endangerment
Arrested for child endangerment?

To prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of violating child endangerment or child neglect laws, the prosecution must prove that:

  1. You did one of the following:
    • Willfully inflicted unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering on a child;
    • Willfully caused or permitted a child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering;
    • Caused or permitted a child in your care or custody to be injured; or
    • Caused or permitted a child in your custody to be placed in a dangerous situation.
  2. You acted under circumstances that were likely to produce great bodily injury or death
  3. You were criminally negligent. You can be found to be criminally negligent if:
    • You acted in a reckless way that created a high risk of death or great bodily injury; and
    • A reasonable person would have known that acting that way would probably result in harm to another person.
  4. You did not act reasonably while disciplining the child.

What are the Defenses to a Child Endangerment Charge?

There are many viable defenses to a child endangerment charge. An experienced attorney can review your case to provide the strongest possible defense to the charges you are facing. Defenses include, but are not limited to:

Reasonable Discipline

In the state of California, a parent is permitted to discipline his/her child, as long as the disciplinary act is reasonable. “Reasonableness” is determined by the following factors:

  1. Whether the punishment was warranted; and
  2. Whether the punishment was excessive under the circumstances.  The jury will review the circumstances of your case to determine whether the disciplinary act constitutes reasonable discipline.

For example, a jury will likely conclude that the use of a large wooden stick to beat a child is unreasonable, whereas the act of spanking a child with an open hand may be determined to be reasonable.

The Child’s Age

The victim in a child endangerment case must be under the age of 18. You cannot be convicted of child endangerment if the victim is has reached his or her 18th birthday on the day of the alleged unlawful act.

The Act Was Not Willful

If your actions were not done on purpose, you cannot be convicted of child endangerment. For example, if a parent’s violent ex-partner took a baby without the parent’s consent, said parent is not guilty of violating child endangerment laws because the parent did not willfully place the baby in the dangerous situation.

There Was No Criminal Negligence

Criminal negligence must be proven for a child endangerment conviction. However, if the action on which a child endangerment charge is based was due to ordinary carelessness, inattention or a mistake in judgment, then the act is not criminally negligent, regardless of the consequences.

False Accusations/Wrongful Arrests

child falsely accuses someone of child endangerment
Falsely accused?

Many child endangerment charges stem from contentious divorce and custody battles. False accusations and wrongful arrests can result when:

  • A child makes up a false allegation for one of many possible reasons
  • Spouses, partners, ex-spouses, ex-partners and in-laws make false allegations driven by jealousy, anger, revenge, or to attempt to gain advantage in a child custody matter

In the state of California, certain groups of professionals including doctors, teachers, social workers, nurses, school administrators and clergy are required by law to report any suspected instances of child endangerment, abuse or neglect (PC 11165). As a result, they may jump to conclusions and make accusations against you without knowing the full extent of the circumstances involved. Therefore it is important to retain an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney as soon as possible to fight for you.

Great Bodily Injury or Death Factor

Depending on whether or not the defendant’s behavior presented a risk of “great bodily injury or death” to the child, child endangerment can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

“Great bodily injury” means significant or substantial injuries. Whether or not an injury is a great bodily injury is determined on an individual case-by-case basis. A prosecutor may be overzealous in adding a great bodily injury factor due to the significant discretion he/she has over such decisions. Therefore, it is important to retain an experienced attorney as soon as possible to monitor the prosecutor’s handling of your case.

Misdemeanor Child Endangerment

Child endangerment is charged as a misdemeanor when a situation did not create a risk of great bodily injury or death to the child. A misdemeanor child endangerment conviction is punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

Felony Child Endangerment

child crying from child abuse
Don’t let these charges let you lose custody of your child.

Child endangerment can also be charged as a felony when the accused is found to have created risk of great bodily injury or death to the child. The circumstances of your case and your past criminal history will also be considered. A felony child endangerment conviction is punishable by two, four or six years in state prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.

If you actually inflicted great bodily injury on the child, you may receive an additional and consecutive three to six years in state prison.

If the child was ultimately killed as a result of child abuse that you inflicted or as a result of your criminal negligence, you face an additional and consecutive four years in state prison. In addition to the child endangerment charge, the prosecutor may also file more serious manslaughter or murder charges.

Child Endangerment FAQs

How old must a child be to be left at home alone?

California law does not specifically define when a child under the age of 18 may be left at home alone. However, if the parent is criminally negligent in leaving the child home alone and the child suffers physical pain or mental suffering, the parent may be charged for child endangerment.

My child was injured while a friend/relative/neighbor was watching them. Can I be charged with child endangerment?

In most cases the answer would be no. If you leave your child in the care of a neighbor or family member and the child is injured, you cannot be found criminally responsible. However, you could be found to be criminally negligent if you knowingly left your child in the care of a convicted sex offender and your child was molested.

I have firearms in my home. Does this constitute child endangerment?

Owning firearms and keeping them in your home where children live does not necessarily constitute child endangerment. However, if the child is injured by a firearm in your home, the likelihood of a child endangerment charge will increase. If you have children in the home and also own firearms, it is extremely advisable that you purchase and store your firearms in a gun safe.

Does a Child Endangerment Conviction Count as a “Strike” on My Criminal Record?

A felony child endangerment conviction that actually resulted in great bodily injury or death to a child (instead of creating risk) counts as a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

orange county child endangerment lawyers
The child endangerment attorneys have been defending those charged with this crime for over 40 years.

If you or a loved one is facing a child endangerment charge, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 40 years of experience in successfully defending persons accused of child endangerment crimes. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

Client Testimonials: Child Endangerment

Physical/Sexual Abuse Cases

My son was facing serious felony molestation charges in Juvenile Court. We hired criminal defense attorney Daniel V. Cota of the law firm of Wallin & Klarich to represent my son. It was a very long process, but Mr. Cota was with us throughout each step of the way. At the conclusion, my son avoided any time in custody and we were able to put this entire ordeal behind us. Thank you Mr. Cota for all of your help with my son’s case. We really appreciate it.


I was young and naïve and had sex with a girl that I went to school with. She had a boyfriend and when she was confronted about where she had been, told them, her parents and the police that I had forcibly raped her. I was looking at being in custody for 10 years when I hired Wallin & Klarich. WK Attorney took over my case and put on a great defense for me. I was found not guilty and walked out of the courtroom that day a free man. Wallin & Klarich saved me 10 years of my life and preserved my future.

-J. G.

“Prior to retaining the services of Wallin & Klarich, I was convicted of statutory rape, which subjected me to automatic deportation. I retained the services of Wallin & Klarich to set aside conviction in order to avoid deportation. The attorneys of Wallin & Klarich moved aggressively to present my case to the District Attorney and Judge. Wallin & Klarich successfully drafted and argued a Writ of Corum Nobis and Writ of Habeas Corpus, which resulted in dismissal of all charges against me. Due to Wallin & Klarich’s suburb legal knowledge the District Attorney will not re-file any charges against me. Thus, there is no conviction on my record and INS can not initiate deportation proceedings against me. I am grateful to Wallin & Klarich for their advice and guidance. I would recommend them highly to anyone facing a similar situation or any other criminal charge.”


“I received a letter in the mail from the District Attorney’s office informing me that I was being charged with sexual battery against a woman I was seeing. Needless to say I was distraught over the entire ordeal. Here I was facing a year in jail and if convicted, I would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of my life! I knew I needed an attorney who would aggressively advocate my case because I was innocent and was being wrongly accused of a horrific crime. My relations were consensual and now to be accused that I forced myself upon someone against their will was not only completely out of character, it was disturbing.

I opened the yellow pages and come across hundreds of different ads for attorneys and didn’t know which to pick. I called a few and was disappointed, until I called the law firm of Wallin and Klarich. The conversation I had with an attorney was so reassuring that I made an appointment and went into their Tustin office to sit down and further discuss my case.

I met with an attorney and after discussing what really happened I knew she was the right attorney to represent me. Although I knew I was innocent, I was afraid because the criminal process really feels as though I have to prove I’m innocent, not that the prosecution has to prove I’m guilty. I am so appreciative that she was successful in arguing my case and pointing out all the inconsistencies in the police report and what the alleged victim had said I had done. It was all a lie and she was able to show that and bring the truth to the forefront.

Anyone going through such a horrid ordeal should have someone like Wallin & Klarich representing them. Wallin & Klarich’s knowledge of the law, along with the fact that they believed me and actually cared about the truth is what made the difference in my case. Thanks to her abilities, my case was dismissed.”

Very truly yours,

Child Abuse

“On April 30, 2000, I was falsely accused of rape. I was facing 8 years in state prison. I met with another law firm before hiring Wallin & Klarich. I am glad I did not hire them because they did not believe that I was innocent and they were trying to convince me to take a plea bargain before seeing the evidence or appearing in court. Wallin & Klarich was the complete opposite. My attorney was able to honestly not render any conclusion until looking at the evidence and he was a forceful advocate in trying to convince the DA not to pursue the case. The result was that I got my case thrown out thanks to Wallin & Klarich. I will know who to recommend for anybody who is accused of a crime. Wallin & Klarich is the best.”

-A. E.

“I was charged with corporal injury to a child. I hired Wallin & Klarich to represent me and attorney Wallin & Klarich got all charges against me dismissed because the district attorney violated my speedy trial rights. I would recommend Wallin & Klarich to anyone who feels that their rights have been violated.”

-C. S.

“I was involved in a domestic incident with my girlfriend, which included a charge of child endangerment. I hired the offices of Wallin & Klarich to represent me. In the very first pre-trial the lawyers of Wallin & Klarich presented my case to the District Attorney and the Judge and the case was dismissed the same day. I believe that the familiarity Wallin & Klarich attorneys have with their particular court was instrumental in the very quick and outstanding result in my case. I would enthusiastically recommend them for any and all criminal matters.”

-Z. A.

“I was charged with unlawful sexual intercourse, Penal Code Section 261.5 for having sex with a minor. There was substantial evidence that I had committed the crime including my confession. The indicated sentence from the court if I plead guilty was 60 days in jail, registration as a sex offender and four years of probation. Notably the sex registration would have been something I would have had to do every year for the rest of my life. It would of made if difficult for me to find a job and buy a house without harassment from the police. As such I hired the law offices of Wallin & Klarich to represent me. Their attorneys are well acquainted with the District Attorneys and the judges for each court. They charged me a flat fee and kept me on making court appearances until the District Attorney finally agreed to reduce the charge to a disturbing the peace, Penal Code Section 415, with community service and informal probation. With this disposition I was able to avoid registering as a sex offender and having a sex offense on my record. In addition I was not required to do any jail time. Were it not for the efforts of the attorneys of Wallin & Klarich my life would have been seriously and permanently effected. I would enthusiastically recommend them for any criminal matter.”

-A. L.

“I was arrested and charged with six felony counts and facing 34 years in state prison. A rape conviction would have required a lifetime of registering as a sex offender. My lawyer fought the case from start to finish. During the course of my case he got some key prosecution evidence thrown out due to the illegal nature in which it was obtained. As a result, he was able to resolve my case on the third day of trial for no jail time and with all the rape charges dismissed! I can now rebuild my life thanks to the efforts of Wallin & Klarich.”

-E. P.

California Penal Code Section 273a

  • Contact Us Now

    If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, now is the time to contact us.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related Articles


Child endangerment is a very serious crime in California. Under California Penal Code Section 273a, you could face up to…

Paul Wallin | March 29, 2017

Child Endangerment

Most people think of the crime of child endangerment as an act of physical harm done to a child. However,…

Paul Wallin | December 16, 2016


Child abuse can take many different forms, including neglect, physical abuse, family violence, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. The effects…

Matthew Wallin | December 17, 2014

SCHEDULE YOUR free consultation

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, this is the time to contact us.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.