Endangering the Welfare of a Child--Introduction

New Jersey has a hodge-podge of statutes related to endangering the welfare of a child. It starts with the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. The Code is contained in Title 2C of New Jersey statutes. The other child endangerment statutes are in Title 9. Title 9 is entitled “Children--Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts.”

Laws in the two titles contain much overlap. And, as we discuss below, Title 9 offenses can be prosecuted under Title 2C. In fact, prosecution for some Title 9 provisions must be under Title 2C. But for many situations, flexibility exists in selection of a particular statute, even for a single well-defined act. As it turns out, the precise statute selected is important because that selection can enormously influence the consequences of a conviction.

Endangering the Welfare Under the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice

NJ endangering lawyer endangering the welfare of a minor endangeing the welfare of a child lawyer NJThe endangering provision in the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice is N.J.S. 2C:24-4. N.J.S. 2C:24-4 defines “child” to mean any person under the age of eighteen. The statute then provides a laundry list of acts that constitute endangering. The severity of a conviction under that section often depends upon a number of factors. One of those factors is which particular provision in N.J.S. 2C:24-4 is involved. Another factor is whether or not the convicted individual is a person who had a legal duty to care for the child, or who had assumed responsibility for the care of the child. When N.J.S. 2C:24-4 makes that distinction, having that duty or responsibility will raise the severity of the crime by a degree. Thus if the act for “everyone else” was a third degree crime, being the parent, or having assumed the responsibility, will make the act a second degree crime.

Some specified acts are second degree crimes even when the actor is not a parent, or not someone who has a legal duty for care of the child. When those same acts are committed by someone who is the parent or who does have that legal duty, these acts then become first degree crimes, again depending on what particular act is involved. Some acts are fourth degree crimes regardless of the status of the actor.

Seem complicated? It is. Suffice it to say, punishments for second degree crimes are much more severe than third and fourth degree crimes. First degree crimes are the most serious crimes defined in New Jersey's Code of Criminal Justice. To put this into perspective, other crimes of the first degree include murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, and being leader of a narcotics trafficking network.

As indicated above, N.J.S. 2C:24-4 defines numerous acts that constitute endangering the welfare of a child. These acts include engaging in sexual conduct that would impair or debauch the morals of the child. They include causing or permitting the child to engage in a “prohibited sexual act.” The statute then lists ten specific situations that constitute prohibited sexual acts. Other prohibited activities include photographing the child engaging in a prohibited sexual act, or the simulation of such acts. Receiving such photography, including using a computer, is prohibited. These are materials often referred to as “child porn.”

N.J.S. 2C:24-4 also incorporates by reference specific provisions in Title 9. In that manner, endangering the welfare by acts defined in Title 9 can be prosecuted as either Title 9 offenses, or Title 2C offenses. Title 9 endangerings are fourth degree crimes. When prosecuted under Title 2C, that same endangering can become a second-, or even first, degree crime. It is the prosecutor who decides whether the crime will be prosecuted under Title 2C, or under Title 9.

Endangering the Welfare of a Child in New Jersey Under Title 9

NJ lawyer endangering the welfare lawyer of a minor of a child lawyer NJTitle 9 is a volume in New Jersey Statutes completely separate from the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. Although not in the Code of Criminal Justice, Title 9 nonetheless defines criminal offenses that deal with abuse, abandonment, cruelty, and neglect of children. N.J.S. 9:6-1 defines these terms. Abuse includes such things as disposing of custody of the child contrary to law, allowing the child to be employed in a dangerous position, habitual use of profanity in the hearing of the child, performing indecent or immoral acts in the presence of the child, and willful social isolation of the child. This list is only partial. N.J.S. 9:6-3 then goes on to specify that the acts of abuse, abandonment, cruelty, or neglect defined in N.J.S. 9:6-1 are fourth degree crimes. Neither N.J.S. 9:6-1 nor N.J.S. 9:6-3 defines who is a “child.”

The other statute of interest in Title 9 is N.J.S. 9:6-8.21. That statute consists only of definitions. Section “c” of N.J.S. 9:6-8.21 contains its own laundry list of definitions that make a child “abused or neglected.” N.J.S. 9:6-8.21 applies only to parents or guardians. But “parent or guardian” is defined very expansively to include teachers, or even volunteers responsible for the child's welfare. N.J.S. 9:6-8.21c defines “child” to mean a person under age eighteen.

As just indicated, N.J.S. 9:6-8.21 consists only of definitions. What it does, therefore, is provide specifications for a prosecution under N.J.S. 2C:24-4. To use an analogy, N.J.S. 9:6-8.21 is the ammunition, and N.J.S. 2C:24-4 is the cannon.

Endangering the Welfare--Final Thoughts

The information provided above is only a summary of New Jersey laws relating to child endangerment. NJ lawyer endangering lawyer endangering the welfare of a minor lawyer NJAnd it is an incomplete summary at that. Repeating what we said above, New Jersey's law of endangering the welfare of a child is complicated. Its complicated nature makes having a lawyer knowledgeable and experienced in this area crucial for a person charged with endangering. Allan Marain is a skilled New Jersey lawyer with that knowledge and experience. If you have been charged, or may be charged, with endangering the welfare of a child, you should call him. Your call incurs no obligation on your part.

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“In criminal law there is only one true law, the constitution of the united states. All statutes and codes are merely the ravings of politicians.”

Counsellors at Law in the Law Offices of Allan Marain, located in New Brunswick, represent clients throughout Central and Northern New Jersey. That includes Asbury Park, Bedminster, Belleville, Bergenfield, Berkeley Heights, Bernards Township, Bernardsville, Bogota, Bound Brook, Branchburg, Brick, Bridgewater, Clifton, Clinton, Closter, Cranbury, Cranford, Cresskill, Deal, Demarest, Denville, Dover, Dumont, Dunellen, East Brunswick, East Rutherford, East Windsor, Edison, Elizabeth, Emerson, Englewood, Englishtown, Ewing, Franklin Township, Freehold, Garfield, Garwood, Hackensack, Highland Park, Hillsborough, Hillsdale, Hillside, Jersey City, Kearny, Kenilworth, Lakewood, Lawrence Township, Mahwah, Manville, Marlboro, Matawan, Metuchen, Middlesex Borough, Monroe, Mountainside, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Nutley, Old Bridge, Paramus, Parsippany, Paterson, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Plainfield, Plainsboro, Point Pleasant, Princeton, Rahway, Raritan, Readington, Red Bank, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Ridgewood, Robbinsville, Rockaway, Rocky Hill, Roselle, Roselle Park, Rutherford, Sayreville, Scotch Plains, Seabright, Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, Secaucus, Shrewsbury, Somerville, South Amboy, South Bound Brook, South Brunswick, South Orange, South Plainfield, South River, Sparta, Spotswood, Summit, Teaneck, Tenafly, Toms River, Trenton, Union, Wall, Warren, Washington, Watchung, West Windsor, Westfield, Woodbridge, and other communities in Bergen County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Ocean County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County. They handle criminal matters in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. They are available to handle matters in the United States Supreme Court.

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