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Reckless Endangerment of a Child under 18

A person may violate Massachusetts G.L. c. 265, § 13L in two ways; either by wantonly or recklessly creating a substantial risk to a child, or by wantonly and recklessly failing to take reasonable steps to alleviate such a risk. In either case, a conviction of this crime is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a prison sentence. Under this law, wanton or reckless behavior occurs when a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his acts, or omission where there is a duty to act, would result in serious bodily injury or sexual abuse to a child. For the purposes of this law, the risk must be of such a nature and degree that disregard of the risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. This crime shall also recognize serious bodily injury as that which results in permanent disfigurement, a protracted loss or impairment of a bodily function, limb or organ, or a substantial risk of death.

Reckless Endangerment by Creating a Substantial Risk to a Child under 18

Pursuant to the law, anyone who wantonly or recklessly engages in conduct that creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or sexual abuse to a child shall be imprisoned in the house of correction for not more than 2.5 years.

In order for the prosecution to secure a guilty conviction for this crime, they must be able to prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. The defendant engaged in conduct which created a substantial and unjustifiable risk of serious bodily injury or sexual abuse to the alleged victim;
  2. The defendant’s conduct was wanton or reckless; and
  3. The alleged victim was under the age of 18.
Reckless Endangerment by Failing to Alleviate a Substantial Risk to a Child under 18

Pursuant to the law, anyone who wantonly or recklessly fails to take reasonable steps to alleviate a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or sexual abuse to a child where there is a duty to act shall be imprisoned in the house of correction for not more than 2.5 years.

In order for the defendant to be found guilty on the second part of this crime, the prosecution must be able to prove four things beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. The alleged victim was a child under the age of 18;
  2. A substantial and unjustifiable risk of serious bodily injury or sexual abuse existed;
  3. The defendant was under a duty to take reasonable steps to alleviate that risk to the child; and
  4. The defendant wantonly or recklessly failed to take such steps.

For the purposes of this crime, any parent or legal guardian has a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent harm to a child in their care. Commonwealth v. Hall. In addition, those who accept responsibility as caretakers also have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent harm. The specific circumstances of the case will determine whether any other individuals also had a legal duty to prevent harm to a child.

The Experience You Need: The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy

If you have been accused of reckless endangerment of a child under 18, it is imperative that you consult an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney who will be able to provide a detailed and professional assessment of your case. At The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy, our goal is to help you avoid any criminal consequences or punishment for your crimes whenever possible. Attorney Murphy has over 18 years of legal experience in the greater Boston area, and will work with you to understand your rights and defend your interests inside and outside of the courtroom. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy is available 24/7 to provide you with a free legal assessment of your case. Please call (617) 367-0450 or by complete the contact form on our website.

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