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DUI with a Passenger under 14

The penalties mandated by California law for a DUI conviction are directly related to a number of aggravating factors, including whether or not there was a passenger in the car and the age of that passenger.  If you are arrested for a DUI and have a child in the vehicle that is under 14 years of age, you may also be charged with “child endangerment” (VC 34572). When determining your sentence, the courts will attempt to answer two questions.

1. Were you in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence?

2. Was there a child in the vehicle at the time of the arrest that was under the age of 14?

California Penal Code 273(a) penalizes an individual who willfully places a child under 14 in a situation that presents imminent risk to their health and/or welfare. This includes driving under the influence with a child 14 years of age of younger in the car. This enhancement offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the specific circumstances.

It is important to have an experienced legal team advise and defend you if you are charged with a DUI and the enhancement of child endangerment. There are several outcomes that could result in the child endangerment charges not being imposed on you. 

1. If you can win your DUI case, the court cannot impose the child endangerment penalty. 

2. If your attorney negotiates your case down to a "wet reckless", the court cannot impose the child endangerment penalty. 

A plea bargain will be a lowered or negotiated settlement that the prosecutor and your attorney agree on. If this were to happen, you would know the sentence you were going to receive before your plea. Your case could be dismissed if you go to trial and win, but if you lose, the judge will sentence you as he or she sees fit. Our skilled attorneys can evaluate your specific case and advise you if a negotiation or plea bargain to a wet reckless is in your best interest. 

3.  If your attorney gets your case dismissed, the court cannot impose the child endangerment penalty.

Penalties

If the court finds you guilty of a DUI as well as in violation of the California Child Endangerment Law, you may be mandated to adhere to the penalties related to the DUI as well as additional penalties for child endangerment. These penalties are dependent on your criminal DUI history.

  • If it is your first DUI conviction, the court may add 48 hours to your DUI sentence.
  • If it is your second DUI conviction, the court may add 10 days to your DUI sentence.
  • If it is your third DUI conviction, the court may add 30 days to your DUI sentence or a subsequent misdemeanor DUI conviction.
  • If it is your fourth DUI conviction, the court may add 90 days to your DUI sentence or a subsequent misdemeanor DUI conviction.

Prior convictions that will affect your case are only those within a 10 year period before the arrest in question. DUIs are misdemeanor unless there is great injury or death caused. If you receive your fourth DUI conviction it can be a "wobbler" and prosecutors can charge the wobbler as a misdemeanor or felony.

California child endangerment law, also known as Penal Code 273(a) PC allows someone to be charged with child endangerment regardless of whether the DUI is filed as a misdemeanor or felony or the age of the minor passenger.

If someone is intoxicated and drives with a child under 14 years old, they can be charged with a DUI sentence enhancement, or child engagement, or both.

If you are convicted of child endangerment, you can face one to six years in the California state prison, depending on if you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony.

In instances where you are charged with a felony, you will receive a "strike" on your record. This can be very serious because any other felony you were convicted of in the past, or are convicted of in the future will be considered towards the three-strike law. If you are charged with two strikes, by law, your sentence will be twice the term. If you were to accumulate three strikes, the mandatory minimum sentence is 25 years to life in California state prison.

Child endangerment charges with DUI charges are taking very seriously by the courts. Our attorneys are specifically trained and exclusively handle these cases in San Diego and Orange County.

California, Penal Code 273a PC punishes someone who endangers a child. Instances such as:

Willfully permitting a child in their care to be injured, permitting a child to suffer unjustifiable mental or physical suffering, or placing a child in a dangerous situation.

It is important to know that California Penal Code 273a PC states that you can be convicted of child endangerment even if a child does not suffer an actual injury. For this reason, it is very important that you have a legal team experienced and very knowledgeable of the child endangerment laws. Without the help of a skilled legal team, it is common for innocent people to be wrongly prosecuted for child endangerment.

A few examples of child endangerment that will result in you being charged are:

Failure to get medical treatment for a sick child.

Leaving a child around loaded guns, knives, or weapons in a home.

Leaving a child with a babysitter if you know they have been abusive towards children.

Our legal team has an experienced team that can help you prepare your defense for a child endangerment case. Our staff has years of experience investigating and successfully defending these types of cases. Our team will explore many defense options with you. Possible defenses may be you are being falsely accused, or that you were disciplining your child and acting within your legal rights as a parent or guardian, or that the act of child endangerment was unintentional on your part, or that you were not the person who caused the endangerment to the child at the time. These are just a few of the defenses our team will begin to explore once you come in for your free consultation. We understand that this can be a very sensitive issue. Our attorneys will be respectful and sensitive to you and your family's privacy.

In California, child endangerment is defined by certain facts called "elements of the crime".

In order to be found guilty of child endangerment, the "elements of the crime" taken into account are as follows:

1. Did you permit or cause a child in your custody or care to be injured?

2. Did you permit or cause a child in your custody to be placed in a situation that was dangerous?

3. Did you willfully inflict unjustifiable mental suffering or physical pain on a child?

4. Did you willfully permit or cause a child to suffer unjustifiable mental suffering or physical pain?

It can be very helpful to have our team of attorneys examine the specific meanings stated in the elements of the crime.

When the law states that you "willingly" inflicted, permitted, or caused suffering, pain, or injury to a child it means on purpose. It doesn't always mean that you did not intend to break the law or cause harm to the child.

An example of this is leaving a child with someone you suspected was abusing a child. If you were to continue to leave the child alone with the person and the child is harmed, you can be convicted of child endangerment. The prosecutor will say that you willfully allowed a violent person to take care of the child.

When the law says "unjustifiable mental suffering or physical pain" they are referring to being excessive under the circumstances or not reasonably necessary.

And example of this would be if a child was running into the street and about to be hit by a car. If you ran after them and they accidentally fell while you were chasing them and broke their arm, you did not inflict pain on the child and your actions were necessary keep the child from experience seen worse pain or injury. In this case, you will most likely be be found not guilty of causing child endangerment.

Went to law says "criminal negligence "they are referring to gross, reckless behavior. The court will ask if a reasonable person was in the situation you were in would their actions have been the same. If they found that your behavior was not that of a reasonable person, you could be charged with criminal negligence.

An example of this is having complete disregard for human life and not taking into consideration the consequences of your action.

If you have been charged with a DUI and/or child endangerment, our attorneys can help you  Call us for a free consultation and we can begin to discreetly and respectfully investigate your case. Our attorneys are specifically trained and exclusively handle these types of cases in San Diego and Orange County.

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