New Jersey’s child endangerment and welfare laws, when applied properly, protect the well-being of children in the state and ensure that minors are not abused, abandoned, neglected, or treated cruelly. Yet, New Jersey’s child endangerment laws are broad and more judges are choosing to interpret the laws in a manner that puts parents at risk of being accused and convicted of child endangerment for violations some would find laughable. In some cases, the accusations have been so extreme that critics claim that the state is violating parents’ basic rights by telling them how to rear their children. In one instance, a mother was placed on the child abuse registry when she left her child sleeping in his car seat while she ran a quick errand. Even though the child was not harmed and the car was safe, the mother faced legal actions. While there are certainly cases where there is a danger in leaving a child in a car on a boiling hot day, some judges are choosing to apply broad-stroke approaches when enforcing New Jersey’s child endangerment and welfare laws. If you’ve been wrongfully accused of child endangerment, contact a child neglect lawyer in Elizabeth, New Jersey today. The Law Office of Eric M. Mark are child endangerment lawyers who will fight for your right to basic rights to parent your child in the manner you see fit.
The Danger of Vague Child Endangerment Laws
Many of New Jersey’s child endangerment laws are open to interpretation. If you’ve been wrongly accused of child endangerment and neglect, you have a lot to lose. Not only can you face years of jail time, but you may also risk losing custody of your children. While you are entitled to a case worker and representation under the law, many of these workers are overburdened by handling a wide range of cases. With so much on the line, you need a child lawyer in Elizabeth, New Jersey who will provide you with the personalized attention you need to protect your freedom, your family, and your rights.
The New Jersey Department of Children and families defines child abuse rather broadly. For instance, under the law, if a child hears profane, indecent, or obscene language, a judge has the ability to charge the parents with child abuse. This law is, by some standards draconian, arcane, and just plain out of date. Definitions of profanity may vary from judge to judge. The limits of enforcement aren’t always clear. Is a parent cursing in front of his or her child abuse? Or, is it abuse to take a child to an R-rated movie where profane or obscene language is used? Abandonment is also defined broadly, as “willfully forsaking a child.” Is leaving a child in a safe car on a cool day, abandonment? It depends on the judge. Many of the laws involve the moral well-being of the child. Morality is often a complex set of values defined by religious tradition, socio-cultural constraints, and other personal value systems. While the law allows judges to make decisions about a parent’s moral value system, parents also have a right to raise their children in a manner they see fit as long as they do not harm their children physically or emotionally. Sometimes the state interests in protecting a child seem to overlap with a parent’s rights. In these instances, the boundaries need to be defined in court.
While protecting a child from physical or sexual abuse is incredibly important, the laws create situations where the courts can interpret the law broadly at the expense of parents. If you’re facing criminal action as a result of decisions you’ve made regarding the rearing of your child, you have a right to defend yourself in court. A child endangerment lawyer can hold judges and juries accountable and make sure that your rights as a parent are not infringed upon. If you’ve been wrongly accused in Elizabeth, New Jersey, contact a child endangerment lawyer today. The Law Office of Eric M. Mark works tirelessly to uncover the truth and protect your rights.