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Child Abuse


Top Child Abuse Defense Attorney in California Child Endangerment Defense Lawyer

30 Years Experience!

☎️ Call Matthew Directly For A Consultation 310-527-4100

Allegations of child abuse or child endangerment are very serious and prosecuted very vigorously in Los Angeles County. Attorney Matthew Ruff knows this better than anyone because of his 30 years of experience defending good people charged with doing sometimes very terrible things. Matthew is a frequent guest speaker and legal commentator on National Public Radio discussing Child Abuse Cases, he is a Top Tier rated criminal defense attorney and he has experience working inside the District Attorney's Office in one of the largest counties in California as well. Matthew has been called upon by local and national media to speak on the topic of child abuse, neglect and child endangerment due to his extensive experience and reputation in this area of the law.

What should I do if I have been accused of child abuse, endangering or neglect and CPS is called out to investigate the case? First, understand that the intent of Child Protective Services (CPS) is to protect children and this is everyone’s goal, however the investigation can quickly pivot to a criminal referral which can result in criminal charges being filed. It is for this reason it is important to consult with and hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible, BEFORE AGREEING TO TALK TO CPS. In most cases, having a defense attorney on your side will decrease the chances the case will evolve to one where you end up in criminal court. In one recent case our team was hired to intervene in an investigation in Los Angeles County where CPS was called out after a domestic violence arrest inside the home. Matthew was able to advise the client effectively and act as a buffer between the client and aggressive investigators. Ultimately the case was dropped with no action by Child Protective Services and NO CRIMINAL CHARGES.

In another recent case Matthew was retained by a client in Orange County California after he was arrested and charged with Penal Code 273A(a) child endangerment, DUI and resisting arrest. It was alleged he was driving recklessly with his 4 year old daughter in the car when the police tried to stop him he evaded them, an open bottle of beer was found inside the car. Later, he was apprehended and a breath test showed a BAC level of .14. The accused also had multiple prior drunk driving convictions. What was most concerning was he was not a citizen and was facing mandatory deportation if convicted. Matt put together a creative legal strategy that alleged a violation of the client's Constitutional Rights and filed a motion to dismiss. Prior to the motion the District Attorney agreed to drop the Child Endangerment and resisting arrest charges. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges involving children, call Matthew today, he can help. In another case Matt was hired by a family in Santa Clarita after a young mother was arrested and booked on Felony Child Endangerment after she left her young child in a hot car in a Costco parking lot alone while she shopped. Matt was able to get involved with the DA and negotiated a resolution where the Felony got dismissed with No Jail Time.

What constitutes felony child endangerment? California law provides that anyone who, while having custody of a child, willfully caused, or permitted to be placed in danger AND the person caused the child to be endangered under circumstances likely to produce great bodily injury or death AND the person was AT A MINIMUM criminally negligent when he or she caused the child to be in danger. Child endangerment can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor charges derive from cases where the circumstances are other than those likely to cause great bodily injury or death.

The Highest Success Rate!

Matt was called upon to defend a client arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor PC 272 (a) (1) in Glendale California. Matt knew he had to get the cahrges dropped because the client was also not a citizen of the United States and a conviction would be detrimental to her ability to stay in the country. Matt put together a defense strategy and mitigation package and reached out to the District Attorney in Los Angeles and negotiated a DISMISSAL OF ALL CHARGES.

Matthew was successful in getting child endangerment charges (PC 273A) dismissed for a client in Los Angeles on August 1, 2023. The client was also charged with DUI and driving above .08 BAC after she was pulled over and arrested on the 101 Freeway near downtown L.A. The outcome was particularly outstanding because the client was a nurse. The resolution of the case will allow the client to move on with her life and spare her from the terrible consequences a conviction would carry.

Recent case example: Matthew was retained to represent a client in Los Angeles County for child endangerment and DUI after the client was arrested following a collision with prescription drugs in his system and endangering his 6 year old son in the car. The District Attorney was asking for jail time so Matthew knew he had to fight the case and win. Matt presented evidence to show the drug levels were insufficient to prove impairment and therefore the client never endangered his child. After several Court appearances Matthew was successful in getting ALL CHARGES DISMISSED.

Child abuse and endangerment charges in California can be broken down to two main categories. First, is the felony category. This requires that the state prove the abuse or neglect was so severe that it could likely cause or does cause great bodily injury or death. Second, is the misdemeanor category. This involves abuse or neglect that does not rise to the level of great bodily injury or death. Both require that the state prove at least criminal negligence, which is conduct that shows an indifference to human life or the consequences.

A person can also be charged with failure to provide the necessities of life such as food, clothing, shelter. This is a misdemeanor and requires that the person charged had no lawful excuse such as an inability to reasonably provide due to lack of money or resources. This is Penal Code 270. Simply being poor is not enough, it must be shown the person failed to provide through no fault of his or her own.

What about cases involving spiritual treatment only? The Courts have held that parents who treat their children with prayer alone does not bar a prosecution for felony child endangerment. The crime is one of criminal negligence and that mental state is determined by an objective test: would a reasonable person in the accused position have been aware of the risk involved. Therefore, even if a parent sincerely believes treating a child through prayer and spiritual methods is the best way to provide care , their actions may still be prosecuted.

In addition to the District Attorney and law enforcement, all allegations of child abuse are investigated in California by the Department of Family and Children's Services (DCFS). Unlike most crimes, there is almost a presumption of guilt in the minds of governmental workers when it comes to accusations of abuse of children. This mindset lends itself to a rush to judgment by County officials and brings out those with ulterior motives. Indeed, the crime of child abuse is one of the most emotionally charged offenses within the California Judicial System. Typically, the police become involved in the investigation of these cases when a report is made regarding suspected physical injury, the danger of injury or the allegation of emotional or psychological abuse. The crime of child abuse is found in the statute codified as Penal Code 273.  

The various types of conduct that can result in a Penal Code section 273 child endangerment charge are:

  1. Willfully or unlawfully causing or allowing a child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering (Willful harm to a child)
  2. Willfully allowing a child in one's custody to have his/her person or physical health injured (Willful injury to a child)
  3. Willfully permitting a child in one's custody to have his/her health or safety endangered (endangering person or health of a child)

The criminal charge of child abuse can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. Whether the case is that of a felony, which carries potential prison time, or the less serious misdemeanor is often determined by the extent of any injury or threat of potential injury to the child. Felony child abuse or endangerment charges can result in imprisonment up to 6 years.

One of the biggest goals Matthew strives for in child abuse or endangerment cases is to get the charges dismissed. Matthew knows the long term consequences these offenses can have so he fights TO KEEP THESE CHARGES OF YOUR RECORD.

Over the course of the last 23 years Matthew has personally defended hundreds of child abuse, neglect and endangerment cases in both Los Angeles and Kern County, as well as other Southern California communities. The cases are usually prosecuted by a special team of district attorneys who have experience in the nature of the offense. Because of my experience as a criminal defense lawyer, I know the issues and defenses that work and those that do not. In all of the child abuse cases I have handled I have always been able to keep my clients out of jail. I firmly believe that avoiding incarceration, though extremely important, is not the only concern. I believe that it is crucial to try and avoid a conviction that will often stay with the individual for life. I strive to work out a dismissal or some type of diversion that keeps the criminal conviction of child abuse off a person's permanent record.  

Call Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew J. Ruff today at 310-527-4100 for a free no cost case evaluation.

Child abuse charges in Los Angeles are almost always followed up by a visit from DCFS, knowing what to do can determine whether you will keep your child. Attorney Ruff can advise you on your next steps and best options to keep your criminal record clean.  

Some recent examples of actual child abuse case results are as follows:  

Matthew Ruff was hired by a young woman accused of causing injury to her finance's son. The alleged abuse was bruising on the child. The child told his teacher that the woman had injured him at home the day before. The child was brought to the school office and the police were called out and interviewed the youngster. Based on statements made by the child and the observations of bruises, the investigator submitted the case to the district attorney. A warrant was issued in the amount of $100,000 for the young woman's arrest. Mr. Ruff was able to get into Court and have the warrant recalled and the client released on her own recognizance. The case was set for a settlement conference and attorney Matthew Ruff convinced the prosecutor and judge that the allegations were overblown. In November of 2008 he negotiated a deferred entry of judgment which will result in a dismissal of the charges and allowed the client to avoid having any record of the case made open to the public.  

In another case Mr. Ruff was referred a matter from another local criminal defense attorney in which the client was accused of child abuse on her 11 year old daughter. The allegations were that she maintained a home with deplorable living conditions that included allegations of extremely dirty household, allowing her adult son to use drugs and alcohol around her child and allowing the child to remain very sick without adequate medical care. The lawyer took the case to Court and refused to accept a plea bargain which would result in a criminal conviction on the client's record and cause possible deportation. He fought the district attorney for a dismissal upon completion of parenting classes.  

In yet another case, Mr. Ruff represented a woman who left her two children in a car in a parking lot while she shopped. The Santa Clarita District Attorney filed the case as a felony. The lawyer went to Court and got the client released on her own recognizance and later worked out a misdemeanor sentence with no jail time.  

A common type of child endangerment is when a parent is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs with a minor in the car. These types of allegations hinge on the provability of the underlying DUI charge and it is here where attorney Matthew Ruff has considerable experience. In one recent case, Matthew was hired to defend a parent charged with DWI and child abuse(endangerment) in Santa Clarita California. The parent had prescription drugs in his system, Xanax, and had crashed his car into a center median. Attorney Matthew Ruff refused to allow the parent to plead guilty and took the case to trial. The majority of the jurors sided with Mr. Ruff and the District Attorney dismissed all charges on March 26, 2010.

In 1988 California law was changed to provide that under the statute, a parent or legal guardian of a person under the age of 18 has a duty "to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control" over a minor. The crime is codified in Penal Code 272, Contributing to Delinquency of Minor.  

Because of the serious nature of child abuse accusations, it is very important to consult with a lawyer knowledgeable with the criminal and non-criminal aspects of the case such as the possible loss of parental rights when DCFS workers get involved. My law firm has the skills and resources to fight the local and state government trying to intervene and interfere with parents raising their children in the way they see fit. Criminal charges such as endangerment of a child can haunt a person for the rest of their life. Matt can fight the charges and keep the conviction off your record and also seal and destroy the arrest record to insulate you from negative employment background checks.

Call Matthew to discuss your Los Angeles Child Abuse case today at 310-527-4100.

Who can be charged with Failure to Report Child Abuse? In California the law requires certain persons to report any known or reasonably suspected instance of child abuse, including non accidental physical injury, sexual abuse, neglect or abuse in out-of-home care.. The law is codified in Penal Code 11164 through 11166. Those required to report child abuse under the law include child care custodians, health practitioners, child protective agency employees, child visitation monitors, clergy, firefighters, animal control officers, and humane society officers. Firefighters and humane society officers are NOT REQUIRED to report known abuse unless they have received training to identify abuse, equivalent to that of teachers and child care custodians. If the suspected child abuse is based on the infliction of mental abuse or the endangering of the child's emotional well being, a report is authorized, but not required. The punishment for failing to report is imprisonment of up to 6 months in the county jail and a fine of up to $1000.

Many things go through the head of someone facing criminal charges in California. The most important thing to remember is that good advice by an experienced lawyer can be perhaps the biggest asset a person can have. False and misleading information is rampant throughout the INTERNET, do not follow the wrong path when faced with potentially life changing accusations of criminal conduct. The Law Offices of Matthew Ruff has been vindicating the wrongfully accused for well over a decade. Whether you are looking for a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer or a Kern County Criminal Defense Attorney, we can help to get you through the most difficult time in your life.

Contact Matthew J. Ruff Attorney at Law Today!

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