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The term “child endangerment” applies to a wide range of alleged behaviors. A conviction can negatively impact the rest of your life. If you’ve been accused of child endangerment, please read on, then contact an experienced York County, PA misdemeanor defense lawyer to learn what the penalties for child endangerment are in Pennsylvania.

What are the penalties for child endangerment in Pennsylvania?

Endangering the welfare of children in Pennsylvania is considered a grave offense, with penalties varying based on the circumstances surrounding the case. For a first child endangerment offense, it is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. Conviction can result in up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. However, for first-time offenders, the sentence typically does not exceed one year, though this is contingent upon the severity of the endangerment and the presence of any prior criminal history. Actions that significantly increase the risk of death or serious bodily harm to the child are particularly egregious and may lead to more severe penalties, underscoring the state’s commitment to protecting children from harm.

How is child endangerment defined in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania’s criminal code defines endangering the welfare of children the following way: Any person supervising the welfare of a child under the age of 18, be it a guardian, a parent or any other person, who violates duty of protection, support or care and thus knowingly endangers the child’s welfare is guilty of child endangerment. This also applies to any person who supervises or employs someone in charge of a child’s welfare. Examples of child endangerment are as follows:

  • DUI with a child in the car
  • Squalid home environment
  • Doing illegal drugs in a child’s presence, or possessing illegal drugs in a child’s presence
  • Not getting medical attention for a sick or injured child
  • Allowing a child to ride, without safety restraint of some kind, on the back of an ATV or other open-air motor vehicle
  • A fight with a spouse that accidentally injures a child
  • Leaving a child unattended in a vehicle

How can I fight child endangerment charges in Pennsylvania?

A skilled York County, PA criminal defense attorney will argue that the child in question was not in imminent danger, you don’t fall in the category of parent, guardian or caregiver and, in the case of a newborn, you delivered the child to a safe haven. When taken out of context, any action can be deemed suspicious or even criminal. You need quality legal representation to fight for you and your future.


We understand that going through the legal system alone can be both confusing and highly stressful. That is why it is our job to help you through every step of the process ahead. For years, we have been helping clients throughout Lancaster County and its surrounding areas through a wide range of legal matters, including personal injury cases, criminal defense matters, family law issues, estate planning law matters, and more. If you need legal assistance, we are here to help. Contact Ilkhanoff & Silverstein today.