If a person is pulled over and arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles and has a child in the car, then many times the police will cite them, and the prosecutors will charge Penal Code 273a child endangerment.
When it comes to DUI defense, it is bad enough if the person is driving dangerously with alcohol in their system; if you add a child in the car, the prosecutors and judges are tough to deal with, and the defense has their work cut out for them.
One of the ways around a child endangerment charge is to show the prosecutor that the defendant was not driving recklessly and that they should not suffer the consequences of having a child endangerment on their criminal record.
This charge can prevent a person from coaching their child in sports in the future and can cause several other issues that must be avoided if possible. Another angle used to avoid this type of conviction is to show that the person's conduct is an aberration that has not happened before and will not happen again.
We encourage our clients to get character letters from friends and family that know the good person you are. And to have your family indicate in the notes what a considerable blow it would be to them if you were limited by having to admit a child endangerment charge.
Over the past 25 years, I have seen that most of these arguments are common sense, but the criminal defense attorney must know who to talk to and how to convey things to them, based on what happened in the case and how the client is situated in their life.
Child Endangerment Related to a DUI is a Serious Matter
One of the big jobs the judge and prosecutors believe they have protecting victims of crime. If the victim is a child, they will go out of their way to help and protect them.
Therefore if they see that you are drinking alcohol and risking your child's life, they will come down particularly hard on you and make sure that you get the help and punishment they feel you need to not engage in this type of behavior again.
In other words, when the court system feels you are not responsible enough to protect your child, you will see that you then lose control over how the problem will be fixed.
In the situation where a parent puts their child in harm's way, in addition to the criminal court punishing the parent and putting roadblocks in their way so they can never engage in this behavior again, they will also get child services involved and use everything at their disposal to protect your child.
To have the best chance of success and avoid some of the harsh penalties that come with a child endangerment / DUI charge, you must find an attorney familiar with these types of cases and has had success in the courthouse where your case is pending.
The Goal in a Child Endangerment DUI Case in Los Angeles
In child endangerment / DUI-related cases, my goal is to do everything I can to ensure that the client does not suffer a conviction for child endangerment because I know how costly this can be to a parent's future. Of course, if you are innocent of a DUI, you will usually have a strong argument that child endangerment does not apply unless you are driving recklessly.
However, if the prosecutors will be able to show that you were driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and could not safely operate a motor vehicle, then having a child in the car at the same time is a huge problem that will take some hard work and strategy to deal with.
The solution to the problem will depend on several factors that should be handled by an attorney who knows and has negotiated with the prosecutors in the court and the judge on the case. This attorney will know what can and can not be accomplished. And, most importantly, they will know the different avenues that work to get the job done.
Whenever you are assessing how a child endangerment, in conjunction with a DUI case, should be handled, you should do so from a frame of reference that takes into account the fact that the judge and prosecutor are looking at what they can do to protect your children and society from your behavior.
Taking it a step further, they are looking at making sure that you never come back to haunt them. In other words, they do not want to be in the position of giving you a break, and then months or even years later, you come back with a difficult situation where you have hurt someone on the road.
If you look at things from the above framework, you will understand why the judges and prosecutors seem to be so harsh on child endangerment cases. It is a situation where they do not want to be perceived by anyone as weak in a case that all of society would say you should punish a parent who puts their child in danger.
Hence, we have to do some hard work to convince the judge and prosecutor that you are a good parent who made a mistake that will not happen again.
This requires us to go-to sources of information that know you and vouch for you as a good person and parent. Then the prosecutor and judge can be more confident that you will not let them down and your children down. Also, they will have something to point to if anyone were ever to question why they gave you a break and did not throw the book at you.