NJ Residents Arrested in South Carolina for Allegedly Kidnapping Baby
Federal authorities arrested two people at a hotel in Columbia, South Carolina after they were found to have taken an infant from New Jersey to South Carolina, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. A tip sent from authorities in New York and New Jersey led officers to believe that the infant’s mother, Jessica Johnson, and another person, Euphus Williams, had traveled to South Carolina with the baby.
Authorities said that Johnson and Williams fled in November 2017 after being ordered to surrender the infant to New Jersey’s Child Services for the alleged positive test of narcotics found in the infant. Johnson and Williams were transported to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, where they are awaiting extradition proceedings to NJ.
Johnson faces charges of cruelty and neglect toward a child and an order to show cause for failure to produce a child, according to Deputy U.S. Marshal Amanda Lyons. Meanwhile, Williams faces a warrant for failure to appear for sentencing for a charge of assault on law enforcement.
Children are the most valuable resource we have, the safety and security of each child is paramount,” said Tom Griffin, U.S. Marshal for the District of South Carolina. “The recovery of this infant shows how law enforcement from across the country works together to bring each child home.”
Child Abuse and Neglect Charges in NJ
In New Jersey, a person can be prosecuted for criminal conduct by the local prosecutor’s office and also investigated for child abuse and neglect by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP). With respect to criminal matters, one is generally charged with endangering the welfare of a child for neglecting a child. The endangering statute is broken up into two major sections and reads as follows:
Any person having a legal duty for the care of a child or who has assumed responsibility for the care of a child who engages in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child is guilty of a crime of the second degree. Any other person who engages in conduct or who causes harm as described in this paragraph to a child is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
Any person having a legal duty for the care of a child or who has assumed responsibility for the care of a child who causes the child harm that would make the child an abused or neglected child as defined in R.S.9:6-1, R.S.9:6-3, and section 1 of P.L.1974, c.119 (C.9:6-8.21) is guilty of a crime of the second degree. Any other person who engages in conduct or who causes harm as described in this paragraph to a child is guilty of a crime of the third degree.
Accordingly, if you are the child’s parent or guardian, you will be charged with a second degree offense, which can result in a prison sentence of 5-10 years, as well as fines of up to $150,000. If you are not the child’s parent or guardian, the charge will be a third degree crime, which can end with a prison sentence of 3-5 years and fines of up to $15,000.
With respect to child welfare cases, a parent or guardian can be held responsible for committing child abuse or neglect under the following conditions:
A parent, guardian, or other person having custody and control:
a. Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon such child physical injury by other than accidental means which causes or creates a substantial risk of death, or serious or protracted disfigurement, or protracted impairment of physical or emotional health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ;
b. Creates or allows to be created a substantial or ongoing risk of physical injury to such child by other than accidental means which would be likely to cause death or serious or protracted disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ; or
c. Commits or allows to be committed an act of sexual abuse against the child;
d. Or a child whose physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as the result of the failure of his parent or guardian, or such other person having his custody and control, to exercise a minimum degree of care (1) in supplying the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, medical or surgical care though financially able to do so or though offered financial or other reasonable means to do so, or (2) in providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship, by unreasonably inflicting or allowing to be inflicted harm, or substantial risk thereof, including the infliction of excessive corporal punishment or using excessive physical restraint under circumstances which do not indicate that the child’s behavior is harmful to himself, others or property; or by any other act of a similarly serious nature requiring the aid of the court;
e. Or a child who has been willfully abandoned by his parent or guardian, or such other person having his custody and control;
f. Or a child who is in an institution as defined in section 1 of P.L.1974, c. 119 (C. 9:6-8.21) and (1) has been so placed inappropriately for a continued period of time with the knowledge that the placement has resulted and may continue to result in harm to the child’s mental or physical well-being or (2) has been willfully isolated from ordinary social contact under circumstances which indicate emotional or social deprivation.
If you are facing criminal charges or are being investigated for child abuse and neglect, it’s important that you contact an experienced attorney. Travis Tormey represents clients being investigated by DCPP for child abuse and neglect in New Jersey.