Exposing Kids to Drugs Can Lead To DCPP Action

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 18, 2023 | 0 Comments

In the early morning hours of January 5, 2023, Asbury Park Police responded to a call about an unresponsive 2-year-old at an apartment complex. The child was rushed to the hospital, but lifesaving efforts could not save him. He had died of a fentanyl overdose. Investigators discovered that the toddler's mother had left quantities of heroin and fentanyl within reach of the toddler and his 5-year-old sibling.

Unfortunately, this case isn't unique in New Jersey or across America. Fentanyl is a potent and dangerous drug. Leaving any illicit drug where a child can get to it and ingest it is considered child endangerment and could have devastating consequences for the parent, including steep fines and prison time.

What Is Child Endangerment?

In New Jersey, endangering the welfare of a child is an indictable criminal offense outlined in the New Jersey Statutes under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4. This statute defines various actions or behaviors that can be considered endangering the welfare of a child. Generally, it involves actions or omissions that place a child at risk of harm or endanger their physical, emotional, or moral well-being.

New Jersey law identifies the following behaviors as child endangerment:

  • Physical abuse or neglect
  • Sexual abuse or exploitation
  • Failing to provide adequate supervision or care
  • Allowing a child to witness domestic violence
  • Allowing a child access to firearms or dangerous weapons
  • Endangerment due to substance abuse
  • Exposing a child to drugs or drug paraphernalia

Child Endangerment Can Lead To DCPP Action

New Jersey prosecutors take crimes against children seriously, and depending on the circumstances may be classified as first, second-, third-, or fourth-degree crimes, and can potentially lead to action by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), which is New Jersey's child protective services agency.

The DCPP's primary mission is to protect the safety and well-being of children. If someone reports a situation where drugs are accessible to a child, or there are concerns about a child's safety due to drug use in the home, the DCPP may investigate the matter. They will assess the circumstances, conduct interviews, and determine whether there is a risk to the child.

The specific actions taken by the DCPP can vary depending on the severity of the situation. They may choose to provide services and support to the family to address the issue, or in more serious cases, they may take legal action to remove the child from the home, especially if there is evidence of neglect or abuse.

Facing Child Welfare Charges? The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team Can Help

Child endangerment is a serious offense in New Jersey, and the penalties can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense. If you have concerns about a specific situation or are facing charges related to endangering the welfare of a child, it's essential to consult with an attorney who specializes in family or criminal law in New Jersey to understand your rights and legal options. Contact the Lento Law Firm's New Jersey Criminal Defense Team at 888.535.3686 or reach out to us through our online link to set up a confidential consultation.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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