What should I do if I am charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child (EWOC)?

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What should I do if I am charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child (EWOC)?

Endangering the Welfare of a Child, commonly referred to as an "EWOC," is a misdemeanor-level crime, and it covers exactly the kind of conduct you might imagine. Here is the statute:

Penal Law § 260.10 Endangering the welfare of a child.
A person is guilty of endangering the welfare of a child when:
1. He or she knowingly acts in a manner likely to be injurious to the
physical, mental or moral welfare of a child less than seventeen years
old or directs or authorizes such child to engage in an occupation
involving a substantial risk of danger to his or her life or health; or
2. Being a parent, guardian or other person legally charged with the
care or custody of a child less than eighteen years old, he or she fails
or refuses to exercise reasonable diligence in the control of such child
to prevent him or her from becoming an "abused child," a "neglected
child," a "juvenile delinquent" or a "person in need of supervision," as
those terms are defined in articles ten, three and seven of the family
court act.

I've represented clients on EWOC charges throughout Monroe County, Livingston County, and the surrounding areas. It's a tricky statute, because it's very subjective. in other words, just it covers a wide range of conduct, and sometimes not everybody agrees on what that conduct is.

Fighting EWOC charges requires a convincing argument that the acts alleged are either:

  1. not admissible into evidence,
  2. untrue in whole,
  3. untrue in part, or
  4. whether the allegations are true or not - they are simply not criminal.

For example, I've seen people charged with EWOC because police found drugs in the home where the children were staying. If the police search of the home was unlawful, none of the evidence of the drugs is admissible, and the EWOC charge must be dismissed.

I've also seen EWOC cases where parents fell asleep during the afternoon, and their toddlers wandered outside only to be found by a neighbor. Is that reckless  on the part of the parent? Maybe. But is it criminal? I know that my son made it two feet out the side door one January back when he was only 3. His mother and I were both awake, but he moved pretty quickly. Should we have been charged with a crime if a neighbor saw him before we did?

If you are charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child, please Contact us at (585) 485-0025 for a free telephone consultation and case evaluation.

Updated November 26, 2016.

The Militello Law firm
2480 Browncroft Boulevard
Rochester, New York 14625
Phone: (585) 485-0025 Fax: (585) 286-3128