Recently, a NJ mother who allowed her two-year old child access to fentanyl and heroin, resulting in the child's death, was prosecuted for manslaughter. The mother had left significant quantities of heroin and fentanyl within easy reach of the two-year-old, and his five-year-old sibling and the two-year-old ingested these drugs, leading directly to his death. Allowing children exposure to illegal drug use is an extremely serious issue. Even in the absence of physical harm to a child, a parent or other adult who is legally responsible for children can be subjected to a ChildLine investigation or even face criminal charges.
Potential Harm of Parent Drug Use
The tragedy of losing a child is an extreme example of the consequences of parental drug use, but even in the absence of physical injury to a child, parental drug use puts a child at risk. If a parent is addicted to alcohol or drugs, they may be emotionally unavailable to their children. The parent's mental function and judgment may be impaired, placing the child at risk for all forms of abuse or neglect. The criminal activity associated with drug manufacture or distribution may also put a child at risk. Even casual drug use may expose a parent to child abuse allegations.
ChildLine is a program of Child Protective Services that accepts child abuse reports and transmits the information to the appropriate investigating agency. ChildLine is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Family members and friends who view drug use by a parent may use this hotline, and the parent will then find themself under investigation.
Once a report is made to Child Protective Services, the children's and youth agency will conduct an assessment to determine if the child is safe. A caseworker will generally complete an initial assessment within 30 days, although it may extend this period to 60 days. If there is parental drug use in the home, this step can present problems for the parent. ChildLine investigations result in three types of findings--indicated, founded, or unfounded. But any ChildLine report can have a drastic and devastating effect on your life, including your professional life. A ChildLine investigation may prevent you from entering certain professions, it may expose you to disciplinary charges if you have a professional license, and it may prevent you from volunteering at your church or child's school.
Possible Criminal Charges
Where there has been serious harm to a child, the parent may face child endangerment charges. In the majority of situations, endangering the welfare of a child is a misdemeanor of the 1st degree. If the child is under six or if the situation involves a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury, the charge may escalate to a felony.
When your future employment and reputation are on the line because of a ChildLine investigation, you need tough and experienced representation. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team has successfully helped many families facing similar circumstances. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 or provide your details online, and we will contact you.