Welfare of a Child
Summary of Cases
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.’"
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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."