Endangering the Welfare of Children (EWOC pronounced e-wok) in PA is a serious felony offense. It just sounds nasty on your criminal record. Who is going to hire someone with that type of charge on their record? A conviction for the crime is like a diamond, it lasts forever. You have to be extremely careful with who you pick to handle this case because picking wrong can ruin your life. When people ask “Who is the best Endangering the Welfare of Children defense attorney near me?” The people have spoken, it’s The McShane Firm
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You can read the exact law here: Endangering the Welfare of Children 18 P.S. § 4304
What the government needs to prove:
Endangering the Welfare of Children known as EWOC is a very wide statute that seems to cover and criminalize a lot of conduct. The devil is in the details. As we will see.
Remember at all times, if the government has charged you with any crime including EWOC, you are innocent in the eyes of the law. Before you start the eternal you are Not Guilty. You remain that way unless the government can present a mountain of evidence proving your guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to convict you the government must prove the following:
- the accused
- is a parent, guardian or other person
- supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age, or
- that employs or supervises such a person
- knowingly endangers the welfare of the child
- by violating a duty of care, protection or support.
What is” knowing” for purposes of EWOC?
The law defines it as follows:
A person acts knowingly with respect to a material element of an offense when:
(i) if the element involves the nature of his conduct or the attendant circumstances, he is aware that his conduct is of that nature or that such circumstances exist; and
(ii) if the element involves a result of his conduct, he is aware that it is practically certain that his conduct will cause such a result.
What the heck does that mean? Well the best way to explain it is by what it is not. Knowing behavior is less than intentional, but more than recklessness or mere negligence.
To put it simply:
- Intentional means that you are aware of what you are doing and do it on purpose for its intended aim.
- However, a person acts knowingly when he acts with the certainty that a certain result will follow from his actions.
- A person acts recklessly if the person does not know for sure that a specific result will follow. Recklessness means that you knowingly take a risk.
- Negligence occurs when a person unknowingly takes a risk that they should have been aware of..
So in the real world, it means whatever a jury wants it to mean. This is where having the right attorney who can explain how your conduct doesn’t fit the crime can make all of the difference.
Additional basis for EWOC charges: Prevention Or Interference with Making a Report of Child Abuse
In order to convict you the government must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- the accused
- in an official capacity,
- prevents or interferes with the making of a report of suspected child abuse under 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to child protective services).
If you are convicted or found guilty of Recklessly Endangering Another Person, it is a misdemeanor of the second degree. Beyond the instant concerns you likely have about jail, probation, fines and costs, you need to be aware of Misdemeanor Conviction Consequences in Pennsylvania.
The maximum penalty for all misdemeanors of the first degree in Pennsylvania is a period of jail not to exceed five years. The maximum fine is not to exceed $10,000.00
Sentencing enhancements based upon conduct
On the books the following are possible enhancements that a judge could find to increase the penalties for EWOC:
(ii) If the actor engaged in a course of conduct of endangering the welfare of a child, the offense constitutes a felony of the third degree.
(iii) If, in the commission of the offense under subsection (a)(1), the actor created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury, the offense constitutes a felony of the third degree.
(iv) If the actor’s conduct under subsection (a)(1) created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury and was part of a course of conduct, the offense constitutes a felony of the second degree.
(2) The grading of an offense under this section shall be increased one grade if, at the time of the commission of the offense, the child was under six years of age.
But pursuant to Supreme Court of the United States ruling called Alleyne, this type of enhancement is presumptively unconstitutional and cannot be applied. These extra facts are not an element of the crime. It is not put before the jury. Therefore, it is not proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. That makes it unconstitutional. That type of challenge is not known by a lot of defense attorneys who dabble in criminal defense. The difference here is huge. As the difference is not only measured in years and thousands of dollars (F2 is max of 10 years and $25,000), but in Felony Conviction Consequences in Pennsylvania.