Recent press indicates a soaring incidence of parents leaving their children unattended in vehicles in casino parking lots while the parents gamble. Public officials report a staggering 60% increase in such incidents just in the past year involving nearly three-hundred children, about a quarter of whom was under the age of seven. Advocacy groups naturally warn of the dangers of gambling with children. Pennsylvania's Gaming Control Board has also launched a public education campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of leaving children unattended while gambling. But the risks of doing so aren't just for the children's safety. You may also face criminal charges, among other serious consequences.
Consequences of Gambling with Unattended Kids
Individual casinos have the right and responsibility to bar irresponsible gamblers from their premises. Indeed, increased private casino surveillance is likely a large part of the increased number of these unfortunate cases of unattended children. But New Jersey's Gaming Control Board also regularly issues official casino bans against irresponsible gamblers, including parents leaving children unattended outside the casino. Violating a regulatory ban can lead to regulatory fines, court restraint, and even contempt proceedings. Casinos and the Control Board also won't hesitate to report parents to local child protection officials. You could lose your children for abuse and neglect, with the state placing them under protective guardianship.
Potential Criminal Charges
Criminal charges may hasten any or all of the above bad consequences of gambling with unattended children. While child abuse or neglect can lead to several different charges, depending on the circumstances, including what happens, if anything, to the child in the incident, 18 Pa. Consolid. Stat. Section 4304(a)(1) is the basic Pennsylvania statute defining the crime of child endangerment as follows: “A parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age, or a person that employs or supervises such a person, commits an offense if he knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support.” Child endangerment charges are a real risk of leaving a child unattended outside a casino while gambling. Surveillance cameras, other casino guests, and casino security may all lead to detection, report, and criminal charges.
Defending Child Endangerment Charges
A criminal charge, though, doesn't mean you'll face conviction. Prosecutors must prove every element of a child endangerment charge beyond a reasonable doubt. While judges and juries may be sympathetic to the risk unattended children face, whether the children were, in fact, unattended and endangered can be a significant issue, one that raises reasonable doubt and can lead to an acquittal. Pennsylvania criminal procedures, including the ability to file defensive motions for relief, allow for other significant defense rights and protections. Retain premier Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now.
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