Risk of Injury to a Minor is a felony in Connecticut, and covers a wide range of criminal conduct.
If you have been charged with Risk of Injury to a Minor, it is important to understand how your criminal case will proceed in the Superior Court and what to expect when contacted by the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
What is Risk of Injury to a Minor?
Under Connecticut General Statutes, the following acts constitute Risk of Injury to a Minor:
- Knowingly and willfully engaging in conduct that puts a child under the age of 16 in danger of physical injury or death;
- Placing a child under the age of 16 in a situation where his or her health or morals are likely to be harmed;
- Having contact with the intimate parts of a child or subjecting a child to another person’s intimate parts.
Some common situations in which people are charged with Risk of Injury to a Minor include the following:
- Domestic violence cases when a child or children are present
- A physical dispute between a parent and child
- Leaving a child unattended in a home or car
- Driving under the influence with a child or children in the car
- Using or storing drugs near a child
What Penalties do I face if charged with Risk of Injury to a Minor?
Risk of Injury to a Minor is a Class C felony and carries a possible penalty of up to ten years in prison. If you are charged with having contact with the intimate parts of a child or subjecting a child to another person’s intimate parts, you face up to twenty years in prison. If that child is under 13 years of age, you face a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of five years of imprisonment.
Will DCF get involved if I am charged with Risk of Injury to a Minor?
Yes. Law enforcement officers are mandated reporters, which means they are legally required to report any suspected child abuse or threat to children to DCF. Once DCF receives notification of suspected child endangerment, a DCF caseworker will contact you and seek to interview you and the child or children and/or any other parent or witnesses to the alleged incident. Depending on your relationship to the child and the circumstances of the offense, DCF will make several decisions about your case.
DCF may take the following actions:
- Terminate parental rights
- Try to remove the child from the home on a temporary basis
- Provide services for you and the family
- Make a finding about neglect and/or abuse
- Place you on a child protection registry
Note: DCF can place you on either a public or private registry. Discuss these possible outcomes with your attorney to determine how this will affect you.
Should I cooperate with DCF?
In most cases yes. DCF may want to talk to your child’s teacher, day care provider or other individuals responsible for the care and well-being of your child or children.
Usually, while your criminal case is pending, the prosecutor will want confirmation that you are cooperating with DCF before resolving your case. Often, by cooperating with DCF and using their services or working with them to obtain services for your family, you will receive a more favorable outcome in your criminal case.
At the same time, it is important to remember that when cooperating with DCF anything you say to a DCF caseworker about the incident in question or your Risk of Injury to a Minor charge is NOT confidential. The DCF caseworker prepares a report and often communicates with the prosecutor or a representative from the Court about the status of your case.
Important: While it is often in your interests to work with DCF, you should consult with an attorney before talking to a DCF caseworker and you should have your attorney present when discussing your case with anyone.
Do I need an attorney if I am charged with Risk of Injury to a Minor in Connecticut?
An experienced attorney will help you resolve your criminal charges and work with the DCF caseworker and prosecutor in a way that is best for you and your family. It is important to address any issues that led to your involvement in the criminal justice system and your charges of Risk of Injury to a Minor. Our attorneys will work closely with you to resolve your Risk of Injury to a Minor case and the DCF investigation to keep these charges from affecting your life.
Your attorney can also coordinate with DCF and facilitate the gathering of records, and under certain circumstances, the sealing of criminal records, to protect your and your family’s privacy.
Your attorney will work with you to ensure he or she obtains critical information related to your Risk of Injury charge and the pending DCF investigation, such as:
- The nature and circumstances of the underlying conduct
- Any prior involvement with DCF
- Your relationship with the child or children involved
- How to prepare for a DCF interview
Your attorney will help you effectively communicate with DCF and ensure you do not incriminate, or further incriminate, yourself when speaking with a caseworker.
Being the subject of a DCF investigation is stressful and sometimes disconcerting. Whether and to what extent you should communicate and work with DCF is a personal decision and it is important to discuss your options with your attorney. Your attorney can go with you when you meet with DCF and will make sure you are not putting yourself in a vulnerable position or incriminating yourself.
If you have been charged with Risk of Injury to a Minor or have any questions about DCF in Connecticut, child endangerment or domestic violence charges, contact the law offices of Koffsky & Felsen, LLC at 203-327-1500. Attorneys Audrey Felsen and Bruce Koffsky will work together with you to ensure your rights are protected and help you through the criminal justice process every step of the way.