Child Endangerment

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 20,000 criminal cases and consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s Best Criminal Defense Firms. We treat our clients like family with a non-judgmental approach. Knowledge is power in any situation. We are here to help educate you about your circumstances. Use our resources below to contact us and learn how we can help you.

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Child Endangerment Lawyer in Cincinnati

If you or a loved one faces child endangerment charges, you will want to have someone on your side, protecting your rights, your freedom, and your reputation. A law firm that has represented child endangerment cases can review your case and advise you of your legal options. They can strategize the appropriate defense aimed at dismissing or reducing charges, as well as holding on to your child custody rights.

Joslyn Law Firm has a team of lawyers prepared to defend you against criminal charges. Our firm prides itself on treating clients like family and offering the dignity and respect that everyone deserves. Our founder and head attorney, Brian Joslyn, has dozens of awards and memberships for his commitment to justice, client satisfaction, and the community, and you can expect that this kind of work ethic will apply to your case. Brian has received:

  • A “Rising Star Selectee” award from Super Lawyers
  • Memberships to multiple Chambers of Commerce in Ohio
  • A lifetime charter membership awarded by Rue Ratings’ Best Attorney of America

Brian and his team of dedicated lawyers are not afraid to take on tough cases and use their experience to fight for favorable outcomes. The team at Joslyn Law Firm knows that your record and your freedom are on the line.

Cincinnati Lawyer for Child Endangerment in Ohio

The state of Ohio expects certain things from a parent or guardian. First and foremost, these individuals bear responsibility for their children’s health and safety. If the state suspects to any degree that you have acted with gross neglect or have otherwise placed your child at risk of harm or danger, they will proceed with criminal charges against you.

Joslyn Law Firm knows precisely what to do when you come to the legal team for aid in a domestic violence case. Criminal charges for child endangerment can cost you significant time and money if you are convicted.

Dealing with the courts and the prosecuting attorney while trying to gather evidence can be tricky for anyone unfamiliar with state laws and criminal defense. Our team has years of experience with criminal defense and prosecution, so we are prepared to come to your defense.

A person accused of harming a child or putting a child in harm’s way faces harsh penalties in Cincinnati. If a court were to convict you of child endangerment, you could serve time behind bars and be forced to pay hefty fines. The threat of these consequences is real. Ohio prosecutors do not tread lightly when it comes to prosecuting people charged with child-related crimes.

Whether the accusations against you stemmed from a misunderstanding or mitigating circumstances, you run the serious risk of serving a sentence and even losing your children without legal representation.

If you have been accused or charged—or even are being questioned about—child endangerment, consider contacting Joslyn Law Firm. Our team of child endangerment lawyers in Cincinnati has the knowledge and experience to defend your case, preserve your representation, and protect your rights and freedom. Call us today at (513) 399-6289 for a free consultation.

Child Endangerment in Ohio Information Center

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Child Endangerment Definitions in Ohio

As with most states, Ohio sets and enforces a set of laws pertaining to raising children. The laws apply to parents, guardians, and custodians of minors under the age of 18, as well as physically or mentally handicapped children under the age of 21.

In general, Ohio laws make it illegal to put a child’s health or safety at substantial risk by failing to fulfill your duty to care, support, and protect the child. The laws cover a broad range of behaviors and failures to act, including abuse to neglect—even leaving a child in a hot car. Ohio laws do not, however, define child endangerment as the act of treating a sick child solely through prayer or spiritual means, based on religious practice.

Defining Child Endangerment Via Ohio Revised Code (RC)

Ohio Revised Code § 2919.22 lays out every detail of the state’s laws regarding child endangerment. Specifically, the RC makes it illegal to do any of the following to a child under the age of 18 or a physically or mentally handicapped child under the age of 21:

  • Abuse
  • Torture
  • Discipline via corporal punishment/restraint excessive for the circumstances and in a manner that puts the child at risk of serious physical harm
  • Repeatedly discipline a child in a way that will seriously impair their mental health
  • Involve the child in the production of sexually oriented or nude material
  • Permit a child to be within 100 feet or on a property where known drug trafficking or manufacturing is occurring

Other Forms of Child Endangerment in Ohio

In Ohio, you can also be charged with child endangerment for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs with a child under the age of 18 in the vehicle. Furthermore, according to section 2903.15 of the RC, any parent, custodian, or guardian of a child, as defined earlier, who permits the child to suffer abuse, torture, physical restraint, or excessive discipline can be charged with child endangerment by permitting child abuse, a third-degree felony with penalties corresponding to this charge. If the child dies from said abuse, the charge is usually elevated to a first-degree felony, with corresponding penalties.

Although your lawyer will consider several defenses in your case of child endangerment, your unawareness of a child’s age is not a legal defense in a case of involving the child in a production or performance of an obscene or sexual nature.

Understanding Specific Terms in Ohio’s Child Endangerment Laws

The Ohio RC uses several terms that you should understand in order to fully comprehend your legal situation. These terms include:

  • Controlled substance: Any drug, mixture, compound, preparation, or substance appearing in schedule I, I, III, IV, or V, as per Revised Code section 3719.01
  • Manufacture: The planting, cultivation, harvesting, processing, making, preparing, or producing of a controlled substance, to include production-related activities, like packaging and labeling
  • Material: Publications, pictures, posters, motion pictures, tapes, or other tangible items that can arouse sexual interest via sound, sight, or touch—including images or texts that appear on computers and electronic devices and screens.
  • Minor: Any individual younger than 18 years of age
  • Nudity-oriented material: Any performances or material that portrays a nude minor
  • Performance: Plays, motion pictures, dances, shows, skits, trailers, previews, or exhibitions performed in front of an audience
  • Sexual Activity: Sexual contact or sexual conduct
  • Sexually oriented matter: A performance or material in which a minor participates or engages in sexual activity, bestiality, or masturbation
  • Vehicle: Any device used to transport a person or property on a highway, including electric bicycles, motorized bicycles, and electric trolleys.

A Joslyn Law Firm child endangerment lawyer in Cincinnati can further explain Ohio’s laws and terminology surrounding child endangerment and interpret how they apply to your case and your possible criminal defense.

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Penalties for Child Endangerment in Cincinnati

If a court convicts you of child endangerment, the penalties you will endure depend on specific aspects of your alleged offense. These circumstances will dictate whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, as well as the degree of that charge. Consider the following scenarios, the associated charges, and their corresponding penalties:

Scenario 1

You are found guilty of putting your child in a situation where there is a substantial risk of serious harm.

  • Charge: First-degree misdemeanor
  • Penalties: Jail sentence of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $1,000

Scenario 2

The court finds you guilty of child endangerment, and you also have a prior conviction related to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or contributing to a child’s delinquency.

  • Charge: Fourth-degree felony
  • Penalties: Prison sentence of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $5,000

Scenario 3

You are found guilty of child endangerment in a situation that caused your child to suffer serious injury.

  • Charge: Third-degree felony
  • Penalties: Prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000

Scenario 4

A court finds you guilty of child endangerment, and you abused the child, resulting in serious physical harm.

  • Charge: Second-degree felony
  • Penalties: Prison sentence of up to eight years and a fine of up to $15,000

Your lawyer should be prepared to investigate the facts and circumstances of your alleged offense in a serious effort to either reduce or dismiss the charges against you.

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Evidence in Hamilton County Child Endangerment Cases

Child endangerment cases rely on hefty amounts of evidence. Your lawyer can try to have evidence suppressed as a strategy for weakening the prosecution’s case against you. The prosecution must prove the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. The more evidence your lawyer is able to suppress, the weaker the prosecution’s ability to meet this burden of proof.


Trials involving child victims are affected by distinctive rules of evidence that stem from the victims’ ages. A key distinction in cases of child abuse is that regarding hearsay, which consists of a statement originally made out of court by someone other than the person testifying at a hearing or trial and submitted as “truth of the matter.” This form of evidence is generally excluded as inadmissible at a hearing or trial.

However, Rule 807 of the Ohio Rules of Evidence allows exceptions for hearsay evidence, in the form of a child’s testimony, to be presented at hearing or trial under specific circumstances. Your lawyer can challenge whether the circumstances of key statements at your hearing or trial meet the requirements for hearsay exceptions in Ohio.

Fourth Amendment Violations

You have a Constitutional right to privacy, and the 4th amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. Your lawyer can challenge the police or prosecutor’s right to search your person or property, particularly if the search happened without a warrant, and fight to have any evidence resulting from that search thrown out. Correspondingly, any submitted evidence that would not have been discovered without the illegally obtained evidence is considered “fruit of the poisonous tree” and will also be inadmissible at trial.

Fifth Amendment Violations

If you gave statements to the police while in custody, and the police failed to inform you of your right to remain silent and to have a lawyer present during questioning, and your right to have a lawyer present during questioning, your attorney can fight to have your statement suppressed at trial.

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Defenses to Ohio Child Endangerment Charges

A lawyer with experience in representing those accused of child endangerment can present any of several defenses against the offense with which a client has been charged. The defense strategy most suited to your case depends on the types of exculpatory evidence your lawyer is able to unearth in their investigation.

Insufficient Evidence

The prosecution must present sufficient evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Moving to suppress key pieces of evidence is a common defense strategy that serves to weaken the prosecution’s case and disable him from meeting their burden of proof.

False Accusations

There are many reasons why an individual might fabricate stories of child endangerment. Sometimes these lies arise as a strategy to gain leverage in a divorce or child custody matter. In other cases, a person might lie about child endangerment out of sheer retaliation or anger. In still other situations, a simple misunderstanding leads to a false accusation of this offense. If the evidence supports such a defense, your lawyer might pursue this strategy in your case.

Disciplinary Measures Were Both Warranted and Reasonable

Ohio law does not state that any physical or mental discipline of a child constitutes child endangerment or child abuse. Rather, the law stipulates that the “punishment, discipline, or restraint is excessive under the circumstances and creates a substantial risk of serious physical harm to the child.” Your lawyer might strategize a defense based on challenging any of the elements of this definition.

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Ohio Child Endangerment Resources

Ohio Revised Code

Here is where you can read the letter of Ohio’s laws pertaining to child endangerment and child abuse. This site spells out every detail of the state’s legal perspective on this type of offense and includes comprehensive lists of terms and cross-references that will help you fully understand the scope of your legal situation.

Office of the Ohio Public Defender

This website offers useful information about the basics of Ohio’s laws pertaining to child endangerment. Reproduced with permission from the Franklin County Public Defender Office, this “Franklin County Criminal Law Casebook” lets you read court decisions in child endangerment cases. Each case summary gives you insight into the court’s rationale for affirming or rejecting arguments and upholding or reversing prior courts’ decisions on such cases.

Ohio Rule 807 – Hearsay Evidence

In this Casetext page, you can learn the intricacies of Ohio Rule of Evidence 807, which speaks to hearsay exceptions, specifically child statements in cases of child abuse. This rule is extremely important in that it applies only to the trustworthiness and reliability of the statement. By reading about this rule, you might be able to offer your attorney some insight into a child’s motives at the time they produced the statement, their use of terminology, and other factors that might serve to make the hearsay exemption inapplicable to your case.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

The JFS is the department responsible for managing the child protective services department. The JFS offers information about calling to report abuse and information about different methods of responding to reports or abuse or neglect, among other youth, adult, and family services.

Hamilton County Job & Family Services

Like the state JFS, the Hamilton County JFS serves residents of Cincinnati and the nearby areas within the county. This organization provides answers to commonly asked questions about Children’s Services and related resources

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Cincinnati Child Endangerment News

January 12, 2021

Ohio Woman Who Padlocked 7-Year-Old Girl In Dog Cage Sentenced To 3 Years in Prison

A judge sentenced a Canton woman who pleaded guilty to child endangerment to three years in prison. Her boyfriend faces the same charge, and his case will go to trial in March 2021. The woman, Lillian Cottrell, and her boyfriend, Derek Mayle, also of Canton, were accused of torturing a girl over the course of seven months. They punished the seven-year-old child by keeping her padlocked in a dog cage in their basement. At the time that child welfare removed the child from the abusive home, she weighed 28 pounds.

January 4, 2021
Overdose Call Leads To Marijuana Grow, Child Endangering Charge

When Jerrold Wills of Bellefontaine called 911, he claimed he had taken too much methadone. Ultimately, the officers who responded to the call discovered Wills had consumed fentanyl. Police officers entered the man’s home and discovered his nine-year-old grandchild in the house. The living conditions consisted of trash piled six feet high. A foul odor stemmed from backed up fixtures.

Various meds and Narcan were found in the bedroom, and marijuana plants were being cultivated in the kitchen. The child was released to the boy’s mother. Wills was charged with possession of drugs, cultivating marijuana, and felony counts of child endangering.

December 22, 2020

Ohio Supreme Court: Sentence in Child’s Death Isn’t Too Long

Justices of the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a 10-year prison sentence received by an Ohio couple for child endangerment was not excessive punishment. The court reinstated the sentence after ruling that the 8th District Court of Appeals did not have the authority to contradict the original sentence in 2018 when it decided the sentence was overly harsh.

The couple’s 12-year-old, special-needs daughter Tia Jones developed an abscess on her ankle in 2013. A staph infection developed after the ankle became gangrenous. The girl succumbed to pneumonia. Tia’s parents, Randy and Carissa Jones, were convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in 2015. They have been in jail since they received their sentence.

December 14, 2020

Youngstown Driver Faces Charges of OVI, Hit-Skip and Child Endangering

A Youngstown man was charged with child endangering, as well as DUI and other offenses after leaving the scene of a crash. An underage teen was also in the vehicle with the alleged offender, Caleb Edmonds, 18, prompting the child endangering charge. Edmonds was weaving through traffic at 3:30 pm. He failed to stop after the accident and was found to be driving under the influence. He was booked into the Trumbull County Jail.

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FAQs for Child Endangerment in Cincinnati

Will I go to jail if I am charged with child endangerment?

If you are convicted of child endangerment in Ohio, you could go to jail or even prison, depending on the circumstances of your alleged offense and the charges brought against you. On top of jail time, you might have to pay stiff fines.

What are the Ohio penalties for child endangerment?

Ohio penalties for child endangerment depend on various factors. For putting a child in a dangerous situation, you will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, and face a jail sentence of up to 180 days and a fine of as much as $1,000. If you have a prior conviction related to abuse or neglect, you face charges of a felony of the fourth degree, which could mean as much as 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If the child suffered a serious injury, you could be charged with a felony of the third degree, with a maximum five-year prison sentence and a max fine of $10,000. If you abused a child, causing serious physical injury, you might be charged with a second-degree felony and will face as much as eight years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Is child endangerment a felony or misdemeanor in Ohio?

Only offenses in which the parent, guardian, or custodian puts a child in a dangerous situation—with no previous convictions—count as misdemeanor child endangerment in Ohio. Subsequent offenses, or situations in which a child suffers a serious injury, or in which the offender physically abused the child, causing serious injury, will be charged as felonies to various degrees. If a child dies from the abuse, the charge is elevated to a felony in the first degree.

What constitutes child endangerment in Ohio?

Ohio laws define child endangerment as happening when a parent, guardian, or custodian of a child under the age of 18 or of a child with a physical or mental handicap under the age of 21:

  • Abuses the child
  • Tortures the child
  • Physically punishes or restrains the child in a manner excessive for the circumstances and one that endangers the child
  • Repeatedly disciplines a child in a manner that could seriously impair their mental development or health
  • Involves the child in producing sexual material
  • Allows a child to be within 100 feet or on a property where they know that drugs are being manufactured or produced

What are defenses to charges of child endangerment in Ohio?

There are several defenses to child endangerment, depending on the circumstances of the case. Common defenses include:

  • False allegations
  • Insufficient evidence
  • Disciplinary measures were warranted and reasonable

Is child endangerment a type of domestic violence crime?

Yes, child endangerment is considered a type of domestic violence crime, as defined by Ohio statute 3113.31. Domestic violence consists of one or more acts against a family member or household member: trying to cause or recklessly causing physical injury, using threat of force to place an individual in fear of harm, acting in a way that would result in a child’s being abused, or committing a sex offense.

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Cincinnati Child Endangerment Defense Lawyer

If you have been accused of neglecting or abusing your child, you should take the matter seriously and act quickly to protect your rights and fight the charges. You stand the risk of serious penalties, including incarceration, imprisonment, and fines. You might even lose custody of your children.

Consider calling Joslyn Law Firm today. A child endangerment lawyer in Cincinnati can walk you through your legal options. We will investigate your case and determine the best defense strategy for pursuing the optimal outcome for you. Call Joslyn Law Firm now for a free consultation: (513) 399-6289

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  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional excellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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