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Home » Crimes Against Children Defense Attorney » Child Abandonment Defense Lawyer

California Child Abandonment Defense Attorney – Penal Code 270 PC

Do You Need To Find A Child Abandonment Criminal Defense Attorney?

Have California police arrested you for child neglect, abandonment, or endangerment? Are you afraid this criminal charge can harm your parental rights? Are you in need of child abandonment defense attorneys? If so, you are likely concerned about how the stigma of this crime can upend your goals and overall life. But you don’t have to carry this burden. Choose the award-winning, crimes against children defense attorneys from My Rights Law. It is our mission to protect your rights and child custody. Call us at (888) 702-8882 or contact us through our secure web form to take advantage of your free consultation today.

Child abandonment is a serious California crime. Child abandonment charges are similar to child abuse, neglect, and endangerment charges. A conviction of child abandonment can remain on your criminal record for years. It can prevent you from working certain jobs, such as daycares, nurseries, and schools. It can prevent you from getting specific work licenses. If you are the victim of a child abandonment allegation and want to fight this charge, continue reading below to learn more about this charge.

What Is Child Abandonment?

You can be charged with child abandonment if you leave your child with another person without providing support and meaningful communication. You are at risk of being found guilty of this crime if you:

  • Only make minimal effort to communicate with your child
  • Fail to visit your child for six months regularly
  • Leave home for a long enough time to cause a substantial risk of serious harm
  • Refuse to provide care, support, and supervision to your child

Is This A Misdemeanor Or Felony?

Abandoning a child is a misdemeanor offense. A judge can sentence you to one year in county jail. [1]However, more severe cases of child abandonment can escalate into a felony. In that case, a judge may sentence you to two, three, or six years in state prison. If a judge sentences you to probation instead, you must serve a mandatory minimum of forty-eight months.

Are There Other Penalties?

Upon conviction, you may incur other severe consequences, such as loss of child custody or termination of parental rights. Note that “parent” is defined broadly under PC 270.[2] Suppose you and your ex are in a custody battle. If a jury convicts you of child abandonment, this gives the other parent solid ground to argue for full custody. In more extreme but plausible cases, the other parents or the state may argue for termination of your parental rights. Under the law, any person may bring a child abandonment case against you if:

  • You left your child without legal identification (e.g., birth certificate)
  • You left your child for six months with someone other than the other parent while
    • Failing to provide bare necessities to and communicate with your child, demonstrating
    • Your intention to abandon your child
  • You left your child with the other parent for one year, during which you
    • failed to provide bare necessities and communicate with the child, demonstrating
    • Your intention to abandon your child.

What Are My Defenses?

Defenses may be available depending on the facts of your case. The defendant has the burden of proving the defense.[3] The best defenses tackle the elements of a crime. Elements are what prosecutors must prove for a jury to find you guilty of the charge. In this case, prosecutors must show that you acted intentionally and had the intention to abandon your child. Thus, defenses that negate this element will help get the case dismissed or a not guilty verdict. However, there are other defenses at your disposal, too.


The law is clear is that you abandon the child for a period. If this duration is not met, you may argue that legal abandonment has not occurred. Rather, you only left your child alone temporarily. You may have left for a lawful purpose or other reasonable justifications.

For example, suppose you were estranged from your family so that there was only you and your child. There is a stalker after you. This stalker has threatened to kill you. You leave your child in a shelter until you can get the help, money, or safety you need. In this case, you did not abandon your child. Even if you didn’t leave your child with identification, a judge is likely to find your decision reasonable under this circumstance.

No Substantial Risk Of Harm

As a second example, suppose you’re a parent with limited resources. You leave your three children at home while you go to work. You work fourteen-hour shifts, but you visit them during lunch breaks. You ensure that all outlets are covered during your visits and windows are locked. Under this circumstance, you can argue that you never left your children under substantial risk of harm. [4]

Maintained Communication

Recall that you must forgo communicating with your child for six months if left with a non-parent and one year if left with the other parent. Suppose you made a phone call or sent a text message before the six-month or one-year window. If so, you have maintained communication. In this case, the more you communicate with your child, the better your chances of avoiding a child abandonment conviction.

Provided Necessities

Another key defense is that you provided necessities to your child.[5] Necessities are food, drink, clothing, and shelter. Dropping off a jacket or mailing sneakers is also evidence that you did not intend to abandon your child. You do not need to provide large sums of money either. Rather, providing $20, for example, is proof that you took some care of your child’s needs. This is especially true if you earn a limited income. Suppose you’re struggling to find work and do not have a place of your own. You wouldn’t be able to provide much for your child under these conditions. Financial hardships are not proof of abandonment, so the court cannot use that against you to terminate your rights.

Do I Need A Criminal Defense Lawyer?

The short answer is “yes.” Remember, prosecutors are not your allies. They’re looking to lock you away. Telling them that you’re innocent won’t be any good. Instead, you’ll need legal experts who are just as seasoned as the prosecutors. It takes a lawyer to beat a lawyer, so hiring a reputable child abandonment lawyer in California is in your best interest. This is where we come in. Rest assured, My Rights Law protects your rights by providing knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys who:

  • know how to craft strategic defenses
  • aren’t intimidated by law enforcement
  • understand the ins and outs of the courtroom and legal procedures
  • have ample experience getting dropped charges, dismissals, and alternative sentences
  • work tirelessly to protect your freedoms

Why Choose My Rights Law If Facing Child Abandonment Charges?

My Rights Law has a record of winning cases, which you can see here. Not only are we successful, but our clients also feel respected by us and satisfied with our services. You may hear what our previous clients said about us here. No matter the charge, we believe in safeguarding your liberty. Don’t sleep on your rights. Call us at (888) 702-8882 or contact us by filling out our secure web form to take advantage of your free consultation today.

Other crimes against child we defend include: Chile Abuse Index Removal, Child Endangerment

[1] California Penal Code 270
[2] California Penal Code 270
[3] People v. Gruntz (1994) 29 Cal.App.4th 412
[4] CALCRIM No. 2981
[5] CALCRIM No. 2981

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