Summary of Endangering
 Welfare of a Child Cases

Endangering the Welfare of a Child

Summary of Cases to January 21, 2001


Drinking or drugs.

People v Grajales, 179 Misc2d 793, 686 NYS2d 608 (Crim Ct, Bronx Co 1999).  The mere presence of marihuana alone in defendants' apartment was insufficient to sustain information charging endangering.  The court pointed out that the People "need not show actual harm to the children [but] there must be some facts in the complaint to show a nexus between the presence of the marihuana and potential or likely harm to the children."

People v Garbarino, 152 AD2d 254, 549 NYS2d 527 (3d Dept 1989), app denied 75 NY2d 919.  Indictments for criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of child upheld against parents who supplied at least 25 ounces of 80-proof alcohol to 15-year-old son, and encouraged him to drink it within 1-2 hour time span. He became highly intoxicated and began to vomit, leading to his death due to "aspiration of gastric contents." His BAC was .41!

People v Bergerson, 17 NY2d 398, 271 NYS2d 236 (1966). Endangering conviction upheld under previous statute [similar to current one]. 28 year old defendant helped 16 year old brother-in-law and his 16 year old friend organize a beer party. Defendant bought the beer, transported it and the boys to a picnic area where the party began, then moved them to his house when it started to rain. Nine boys were at the party, from ages 14 to 16. On the way home from the party, one of the 14 year olds was struck by a car and killed. [This is the only Court of Appeals case I found regarding the Endangering crime.]

People v Cruz, 152 Misc2d 436, 576 NYS2d 978 (Crim Ct, NY Co 1991). Allegations that, with two small children as passengers, defendant was driving his automobile in such an intoxicated condition that defendant’s speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet, were sufficient to establish prima facie violation of child endangerment statute, including likelihood of injury to child passengers.  The court said "reference to the language of PL 260.10(1) reveals that the potential impact of the injury anticipated by the statute need not be direct, rather it must be ‘likely.’ That is, ‘[a] defendant must act in a manner, no matter who the action is directed at, which is likely to result in harm to a minor and he must do so knowing of the potential that such harm will come to the minor.’"


Home Alone.

People v Watson, 182 Misc2d 644, 700 NYS2d 651 (Crim Ct, Bronx Co 1999).  Defendant who left a 7 year old child alone in locked apartment for approximately 2 1/2 hours endangered the welfare of the child, even if the defendant owed no legal duty of care to the child; leaving the child alone was an act, not an omission, and thus not duty needed to exist on part of the defendant to impose criminal liability.  No injury or actual harm need result from the accused's actions for criminal liability to be imposed under the endangering statute.

People v Cenat, 176 Misc2d 39, 671 NYS2d 578 (Crim Ct, Kings Co 1997).  Allegations that the mother left her two young children, ages 10 and 3, unsupervised in an automobile parked on New York City street for two hours was sufficient to charge endangering.

People v Seward, 173 Misc2d 1020, 662 NYS2d 731 (City Ct, Mt Vernon 1997). Allegation that defendant left a six-year-old child at home alone for an hour in the middle of the night, without more, did not amount to the crime of Endangering. The court agreed it was not good parenting and should not be done, but said it did not rise to the level of criminal activity. It cited two cases:

People v Mantley, NYLJ, June 2, 1994 (Crim Ct Richmond Co). Dismissed Endangering charge where 7 year old left alone for a few hours in an extremely messy environment.

Augustine v Berger, 88 Misc2d 487, 388 NYS2d 537 (Sup Ct Suffolk Co 1976). Mother’s one time leaving children aged one and two years at home alone for a half hour did not constitute neglect.


Mocking and Vulgar Remarks.

People v Simmons, 92 NY2d 829, 677 NYS2d 58 (1998).  Evidence that defendant, a trained day-care teacher, repeated mocking and vulgar remarks to a 23 month-old child over a period of six weeks was sufficient to permit jurors to reasonable conclude that totality of defendant's remarks would have combined to create likelihood of harm, regardless of child's level of understanding, as required to support conviction for endangering the welfare of a child.


Omission of Adequate Medical Care.

People v Manon, 226 AD2d 774, 640 NYS2d 318 (3d Dept 1996) app denied 88 NY2d 1022.  Upheld Endangering conviction where mother failed to keep necessary medical appointments for baby, kept baby and his bassinet in filthy condition and exposed him to household filled with garbage, cat feces, and fruit flies, and failed to feed him properly. The baby died of dehydration and undernutrition, and this 17-year-old mother of three was also convicted of criminally negligent homicide.

People v Goddard, 206 AD2d 653, 614 NYS2d 480 (3d 1994), . Criminally negligent homicide indictment dismissed where no evidence that the defendant, a casual babysitter for the four-year-old child, would have been aware of the special medical needs of the child, that he had not been given his medication and that he was suffering from life-threatening dehydration. The significance of the child’s special needs circumstances were not "apparent to one who shares the community’s general sense of right and wrong."



People v Padmore, 221 AD2d 663, 634 NYS2d 215 (2d Dept 1995), app denied 87 NY2d 1023 (1996).  Upheld Endangering conviction after trial eventhough acquitted of rape and sexual abuse. PL 260.10(1) is not unconstitutionally vague: "A reasonable man would have been aware that actions such as those committed by the defendant would have endangered the ‘life, limb, health or morals’ of the complainant herein."

People v Simmons, 221 AD2d 994, 635 NYS2d 373 (4th Dept 1995). A person is guilty of endangering the welfare of a child only when he acts knowingly. It was reversible error to charge the jury that it could find defendant guilty based upon what "he should have known." [No facts given.]

People v Poplaski, 162 Misc2d 209, 616 NYS2d 434 (Dst Ct, Nassau Co 1994). Use of endangering statute to prohibit defendant from conducting sexually explicit telephone conversations with children in which he claimed hypnotic ability and directed children to masturbate was not unconstitutional restriction on his right to free speech.

People v Benu, 87 Misc2d 139, 385 NYS2d 222 (Crim Ct, Kings Co 1976). Upheld Endangering for father arranging the marriage of his 13 year old daughter to 17 year old young man. Eventhough the marriage was voidable, the crime is still committed. It need not be established that the child’s welfare was actually endangered; the law is directed to the potential for endangering the child’s welfare.


Witness to Domestic Violence.

People v Johnson, 95 NY2d 368 (Oct 26, 2000).  The Court of Appeals held that a defendant may be convicted of Endangering the Welfare of a Child when his actions were not specifically directed at the children. The defendant's violent, repeated assaults on his ex-girlfriend, first in the presence of the children, then in their hearing within the same apartment, could reasonably be determined as creating a likelihood of harm to the children. 

The Court noted that "nothing in the statute restricts its application solely to harmful conduct directed at children . . . rather, a defendant must simply be aware that the conduct may likely result in harm to a child, whether directed at the child or not."  The Court also recognized that the "adverse effects of domestic violence on children have been well documented over the past two decades . . . ."

In emphasizing that "each case is fact specific," the Court of Appeals ruled that "to the extent that some courts have determined that section 260.10(1) requires that a defendant's conduct must directly focused upon the child, or that evidence of a child witnessing a severe act of violence is insufficient as a matter of law to support a conviction under this statute, those decisions are not to be followed."