Child endangerment describes a group of criminal acts that place a child’s well-being at risk. The endangerment may be physical, mental, social, or moral. Types of child endangerment criminal charges involve driving while intoxicated with a child in the car, leaving a child unattended, failure to report suspected child abuse, and serving alcohol to minors.
Am I Guilty of Child Endangerment if I Help a Child Run Away in Texas?
No. In Texas, a person would be charged with committing a different crime called “harboring a runaway.” This is because the state makes a person criminally negligent to knowingly harbor, or hide, a child who has run away from their parent or legal guardian.
How Can the State Convict Me of Harboring a Runaway Child?
To convict a person, the state has to prove:
- The runaway was younger than 18 years old; AND
- The runaway voluntarily left home without the consent of their parent or guardian for a long length of time or without any intention of returning home; OR
- The runaway may have escaped the custody of a probation officer, police officer, Texas Youth Council, or youth detention facility
Can I Protect Myself By Notifying the Police about the Runaway Staying with Me?
Yes. Notifying the police that a runway is currently with you is a defense to harboring a runaway. However, the person would have to inform the police within 24 hours after discovering the runaway escaped from custody. The person can also inform the agency, legal guardian, or parent who had custody of the runaway within 24 hours instead of alerting the police.
What Is the Punishment for Harboring a Runaway?
Hiding a runaway is a Class A misdemeanor. This misdemeanor is punishable by:
- About one year in county jail
- A fine and county jail time
Should I Talk to a Lawyer about My Charge?
Harboring a runway is one of the most serious misdemeanors in Texas. Thus, it is important to contact a Texas lawyer about fighting your charge to avoid possible jail time or a massive fine when facing a harboring a runaway criminal charge.