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Abandoning or Endangering a Child

Parents, caretakers and legal guardians are expected to support their child mentally, physically and emotionally. Failing to provide for your child intentionally, withholding resources from the child or putting them in a dangerous position can lead to a criminal charge known as abandoning or endangering a child. The penalties for the crime are incredibly serious and can lead to a felony-level charge. Not only this, but you could also lose lawful custody of the child. 

If you or someone you know has been accused of abandoning or endangering their child, it’s incredibly important you have legal representation secured immediately. Abandoning or endangering a child is a serious crime that can result in life-altering consequences. It’s important you’re prepared with quality legal counsel before moving forward.

Defense Attorney for Child Endangerment or Abandonment in Harris County, TX

Children have needs they can’t secure for themselves so it’s the guardian’s responsibility to ensure those are met. When a parent or legal guardian intentionally fails to provide those or puts a child in a dubious situation it can result in a criminal charge. If you’ve been accused of abandoning or endangering your child, we suggest you gain quality representation with Horak Law.

Matthew Horak is an experienced domestic violence defense attorney who understands the stress accompanying raising a child. He approaches each client with compassion but is aggressive when it comes to the courtroom. Call (713) 225-8000 to learn more about his practice and set up his first consultation free. Horak Law represents people throughout Montgomery County including Conroe, Magnolia and the Woodlands. 

Overview of Abandoning or Endangering a Child in TX


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What Are the Elements of Abandoning or Endangering a Child in Texas?

Texas has certain rules and regulations a person must follow when they have custody of a child. Parents who knowingly or intentionally leave their child in a hazardous situation or abandon them for a long period may face charges. In this context, the term “abandon” refers to leaving a child in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care for the child.

According to Texas Penal Code 22.041, you’re guilty of abandoning or endangering a child if you do any of the following actions.

  • Intentionally abandoning a child in any place under the age of 15 under circumstances that could expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm;
  • Intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence, by act or omission, engages in activity that places a child younger than the age of 15 in imminent danger of bodily injury, physical/mental impairment or death 

A child is in imminent danger of injury, impairment or death if:

  • They manufactured, possessed or in any way introduced methamphetamine into the body or near the presence of a child;
  • If the child is in close proximity or has easy accessibility to methamphetamines and lab results show that there is a prescreen of methamphetamines in the child’s body; or
  • You ingested, inhaled or introduced a controlled substance from Penalty Group 1 into the body while caring for your child

Most opiates and high-risk drugs can be found under Penalty Group 1 in Texas. Some examples of Penalty Group 1 controlled substances include:

  • Morphine;
  • Oxycodone;
  • Ketamine;
  • Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol);
  • Methamphetamine;
  • Heroin;
  • Cocaine; and
  • Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)

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What Are the Penalties for Abandoning or Endangering Your Child in Texas?

The penalties for child endangerment or abandonment depend on the circumstances of the case. Abandoning your child without any reasonable means and an intent to return is a state jail felony, which is punishable by: 

  • Up to 2 years in state jail; and
  • A fine of up to $10,000 

It’s also a state jail felony if you intentionally, knowingly, or with criminal negligence engage in conduct that would put your child at risk. If you had no intent to return to the child, then the crime is classified as a third-degree felony. The penalties surrounding a third-degree felony include:

  • Up to 10 years in prison; and
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Abandoning a child under circumstances that a reasonable person would believe are hazardous is a second-degree felony. The consequences associated with a second-degree felony include:

  • Up to 20 years in prison; and
  • A fine of up to $10,000

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Additional Resources

Texas Care for Children – Visit the official website for the non-profit, non-partisan and multi-issue children’s policy organization to learn more about child abandonment and their plans to reduce cases in Texas every year. Access the site to learn resources, policies they are promoting and how to get involved.

Texas Laws for Child Endangerment – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to learn more about child abandonment or endangerment. Access the site to learn more about the penalties, defenses, elements of the crime and other related crimes.


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Defense Lawyer for Child Abandonment in The Woodlands, TX

If you or someone you know has been arrested for child endangerment or abandonment, it’s imperative you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Find a skilled and knowledgeable defense lawyer with Horak Law. Matthew Horak has been practicing for years and understands the ins and outs of crimes concerning children. 

To get in contact with Horak Law call (713) 225-8000. We can set up your first consultation free and sit down with you to discuss your charges. Horak Law represents people throughout various counties in Texas such as Fort Bend County, Liberty County, Brazoria County, Montgomery County and Harris County. 


This article was last updated on November 22, 2019.

Our Office in The Woodlands
1790 Hughes Landing Blvd #400 The Woodlands, TX 77380 (281) 907-4990
Our Office in Houston
5300 Memorial Dr #750 A Houston, TX 77007 (713) 225-8000
Request Your Consultation Fill out the form below and we'll be in touch within 24 hours!

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Matt Horak Matt Horak is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2014

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