Child Endangerment Charges for DUI in Las Vegas
Most people realize that getting a DUI can create serious problems. It can mean losing your license, losing a job, and can lead to catastrophic financial challenges. But when there’s a child in the car at the time of a DUI, it can also lead to lengthy jail sentences or even involvement from the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services. At Lobo Law, we know all too well just how quickly a minor criminal offense can be escalated to a point where the alleged offender faces severe consequences. Having a child in your car when driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can land you in big trouble in Nevada. As an experienced criminal defense team, we want all Las Vegas residents and visitors to keep the following in mind.
What is a Misdemeanor DUI?
Nevada law gives first-time DUI offenders a misdemeanor charge. Penalties can include:
- Up to 6 months in jail or between 24 and 96 hours of community service
- Alcohol courses
- Fines up to $1,000
- Ignition Interlock Program
- License suspension up to 185 days
How Can a First-Time DUI Get Enhanced?
When a driver is caught driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substance with a minor in the vehicle (defined as a minor under the age of 15), the judge will have discretion to enhance the penalty. This can lead to actual jail time, even for a first-time offender. Fines can also be increased. Plus, a second DUI can result in steeper penalties than what may otherwise be imposed.
Beware of child endangerment penalties, however. Just because a minor DUI is slightly enhanced does not mean you are out of the woods. If a child is injured because of the DUI, you may face a charge for child endangerment. Even if there is no physical harm, zealous prosecutors could possibly make a case to charge you with child endangerment. This could result in years of jail time between 2 and 20 years and can be brought as a Class B felony. The key to a child endangerment charge is that the government must prove:
- The person knowingly placed the child in the dangerous situation and
- There was a reasonable risk of harm
It is irrelevant that a defendant didn’t realize the situation would be dangerous. The key is that the defendant knowingly placed the child in a situation that is reasonably likely to cause harm, whether or not harm actually results.
When it comes to DUIs, it can be difficult to make a sound argument that a defendant did not realize the harm. However, there are many situations where actual harm was not possible. For instance:
- Perhaps the vehicle was parked, and you had no intent to drive. This would not likely pose a significant threat to the child.
- Maybe you were on private property and simply moving the vehicle to a sidewalk, thereby not posing a real threat.
- Maybe you were arrested for driving under the influence of a prescription medication, and it has little to know side effects that could reasonably be known to cause side-effects.
Getting Help with Child Endangerment Charges
If you are fighting for your freedom, you need the experience and skill of a Las Vegas child abuse attorney on your side. Never try to resolve a serious criminal charge alone. At Lobo Law, we’re here to help. Give us a call today to discuss your possible options.