If you like to spend time outdoors doing recreational activities like biking, riding ATVs, or boating, you probably want to include your children in these activities, too. You have to be fully aware of all safety laws regarding children and outdoor activities like these, however. If you don't follow these laws closely and you get reported, you could be charged with the crime of child endangerment.
What Is Child Endangerment?
In Pennsylvania, you could be guilty of child endangerment if you are supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age and you knowingly violated a duty of care, protection, or support. Also, you can be charged with child endangerment if you prevent or interfere with someone else who is making a child abuse report.
Examples of child endangerment include:
- DUI with a child in the car
- Possessing or using illegal drugs in the presence of children
- Allowing your child to ride on the back of an open-air motor vehicle without some form of safety restraint
- Spousal dispute that results in an injury to a child
- Leaving a child in a hot room for 24-48 hours with no water or nourishment
- Failing to seek medical attention for a child
- Squalid living conditions
Usually, child endangerment in Pennsylvania is a first-degree misdemeanor, which comes with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
When Is Outdoor Recreation Considered Child Endangerment?
Spending time in the great outdoors with your kids is usually pretty harmless as long as you and your kids are careful. Whether you're taking them on your boat or for a bike ride, you have to be sure you're following proper safety rules (whether you agree with them or not).
Some examples of outdoor recreational activities that have laws about child safety in Pennsylvania include:
- Riding a bicycle: Helmet required for kids 12 and under
- Boating, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding: Life jacket required for kids 12 and under on boats 20 feet long
- ATV riding: Kids under eight aren't allowed, and kids 8-15 must complete a training course
- Hunting: kids under 12 must have a mentored hunting license and be accompanied by a licensed adult 21 or older
- Snowmobiling: Children under 16 are prohibited from operating snowmobiles
- Horseback riding: Helmets are required for any rider under 18
Some outdoor activities are regulated by state law and others by the individual organizations that offer them (such as horseback riding clubs). If you take your child to do an outdoor activity and you don't follow safety laws, you could get charged with a crime.
What to Do if You're Accused of Child Endangerment
If you know there's been a report about you concerning child endangerment, or you've been charged with a crime, you should contact a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney, like the team at the Lento Law Firm. We can help you stand up for your rights and work to keep you and your family together. Call today at 888-535-3686 or fill out our form for a consultation.