Severity of Endangering the Welfare of a Child Charge
The Endangering charge is generally a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum sentence permitted by law for a first-degree misdemeanor is 5 years in jail and a $10,000.00 fine. A conviction of a first-degree misdemeanor also triggers Federal firearm prohibition, which means a conviction of this offense would prohibit a person from possessing a firearm.
Course of Conduct Felony Charges
The severity of the charge can increase to third degree felony is there is a “course of conduct” of endangering the child. A third degree felony in Pennsylvania is punishable by up to 7 years in jail and a $15,000.00 fine.
The phrase “course of conduct” is not defined in the Endangering statute, but that phrase has been defined many times in the context of other offenses under the Crimes Code. The phrase has routinely been held to require more than one act over time. In the case of Commonwealth v. Kelly, 102 A.3d 1025, 1030 (Pa. Super. 2014), the Superior Court discussed the phrase “court of conduct” in the EWOC law and noted that “[a]lthough the EWOC statute does not define ‘course of conduct,’ the phrase is clearly used in that context to differentiate the penalties for single and multiple endangering acts.”