Many states criminalize the use of illegal drugs in front of children, and Utah is among these states. If you have been charged with parental drug use as child abuse, which is sometimes called endangerment of a child, you should immediately contact a defense attorney with experience in Utah child endangerment law. The decisions you make in the first few days will have lasting consequences for you and the child involved. A lawyer can explain your rights and guide you through the Utah legal system. Penalties are almost always less severe when you have a skilled attorney working on your behalf. The team at Intermountain Legal is especially equipped to help because of their background in prosecution in the greater Salt Lake City area. They have relationships with prosecuting attorneys and knowledge of the different Utah judges which can help them in reaching a resolution in your case. Their team will protect your rights and help you get the best possible outcome for your family.
Utah Parental Drug Use as Child Abuse Laws
Utah parental drug use as child abuse laws address two specific ways in which children are endangered through drug abuse by their parents or other adults. The first is prenatal drug use. The second is the harm to children of any age who are exposed to illegal drug use by their parent or other adult in their homes or in their environment.
Prenatal Drug Exposure
Federal law requires Utah to have policies and procedures in place which require that Child Protective Services be notified if a child is born after being exposed to alcohol or illegal drugs or other controlled substances while in the womb. A plan must be established to safely care for newborns that are at risk or suffering from withdrawal symptoms. The law requires that any person, including a licensed medical professional, who attends the birth of a child or cares for a child and determines that child suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal drug dependency must report that determination to Utah Child and Family Services as soon as possible.
Exposure of Children to Illegal Drugs or Controlled Substances
Utah makes it a felony for anyone to knowingly or intentionally permit a child to be exposed to an illegal drug or controlled substance. The state defines exposure to an illegal drug as giving a child the opportunity to view, access, smell an illegal drug or controlled substance or permitting a child to smell an odor that results from producing or manufacturing an illegal drug or controlled substance. Utah likewise considers allowing a child to have access to drug paraphernalia to be exposure. It is a third degree felony to knowingly or intentionally allow a child to inhale or ingest and illegal drug or controlled substance.
These same laws are applied to situations where a vulnerable adult is exposed. A vulnerable adult is a person over the age of 18 who has mental or physical impairments which make that adult unable to protect themself, provide for themself, manage their own resources, carry on the daily activities or life, or recognize that they are being abused or exploited.
Utah Penalties for Parental Drug Use as Child Abuse
Parental drug use as child abuse or endangerment of a child is a third degree felony in Utah.
The law increases the charge to a second degree felony if a child suffers bodily injury as a result of being exposed. It is a first degree felony in Utah if a child dies as a result of that exposure.
Exposing a child to a controlled substance which was obtained by a lawful prescription and which is in the possession of the person for whom the controlled substance was prescribed is not considered parental drug use as child abuse or endangerment of a child.
When it comes to parental drug use as child abuse or child endangerment, then stakes are very high. Parents or guardians who are charges with parental drug use as child abuse or endangerment of a child not only face possible fines and jail time, but also risk having the child victim removed from their custody. In these cases, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will work on your behalf. The team at Intermountain Legal can begin negotiating with prosecutors and working with the Utah Department of Child Protective Services as soon as you contact them. Courts are not anxious to separate families, and are often willing to substitute drug treatment programs for more severe punishments. However, people charged with parental drug use as child abuse usually need a criminal attorney to help them reach more favorable arrangements with the courts.
Call our Salt Lake City team at Intermountain Legal
Intermountain Legal in Salt Lake City has built an impressive record of courtroom success and client satisfaction. Our dedicated defense attorneys are effective advocates in resolving or minimizing those charges. Call our office today at 801-895-3445 or contact us online to begin taking control of your legal troubles.