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Police Scuffle Ends With Child Endangerment Charges


Video posted to social media shows NYPD officers separating a Brooklyn mother from her 1-year-old child after an altercation at a food stamp office.

According to witnesses, 23-year-old Jazmine Headley had been sitting on the office floor for about two hours due to a lack of chairs. When a security guard told her to move, both parties became defensive and combative. As the situation escalated, NYPD officers responded to the scene. At one point, Ms. Headley was on the floor as officers forcibly pried the child away from his mother.

Ms. Headley was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, along with resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, and trespassing. She was denied bond because of an outstanding warrant in New Jersey.

Section 260.10 Application in New York

There is a move afoot to make New York’s child endangerment law a felony in some cases. But for now, Section 260.10 violations are always misdemeanors.

Subsection one applies to any person’s interaction with any child. That includes parents and nonparents. It applies to a wide range of child endangerment situations, such as:

  • Fighting (especially domestic violence) in front of the child,
  • A child passenger DUI (which is a felony in a few situations),
  • Using drugs in front of a child, and
  • Providing alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to a child.

In some states, provisions like 260.10(1) are called contributing to the delinquency of a child.

Significantly, 260.10(1) is not a child injury statute. Prosecutors need not establish any physical, emotional, or other injury to the child. Any “substantial risk of danger to his or her life or health” is sufficient.

260.10(2) applies to parents and guardians. These individuals have a legal duty to children in their care. Prosecutors may file charges against parents or guardians (or people who stand in for parents or guardians, like babysitters or au pairs) who fail to use “reasonable diligence” to keep the child from becoming a “person in need of supervision.” Some common scenarios include a failure to provide:

  • Basic medical care,
  • Food,
  • Shelter, and
  • Education.

A PINS (person in need of supervision) is a technical term which is defined in the Family Court Act.

Some Possible Child Endangerment Defenses

Non-parents and non-caregivers do not have a legal duty to care for children. So, subsection one cases require that the person commit a criminal act in front of the child. We can think of many scenarios that are inappropriate or immoral or just plain sickening, but they are not illegal.

Subsection two cases are a bit subjective. It is a crime to be a negligent parent, but it is not a crime to be poor. That’s especially true with regard to basic medical care. Many families are in a financial no-man’s land. They earn too much to qualify for government assistance but cannot afford comprehensive health insurance for their children.

Parenting choices may be a factor as well. Some people consider a steady fast-food diet to be dangerous, because the foods have such high fat, salt, and sugar contents. But some parents may not have much choice in the matter, because other types of food are unavailable.

In both these instances, adults sometimes coach children into making incriminating statements. Such problems are more common in subsection two cases, and especially acute if there is an ongoing child custody dispute. An experienced criminal attorney can usually spot coaching. Some indications include children who repeat the same words in multiple interviews, children who use age-inappropriate language, and parents who insist on being present during the interview.




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