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U.S. Court of Appeals Orders New Sentence in New Jersey Child Abuse Case

Hackensack NJ Child Endangerment AttorneysA former U.S. Army Major and his wife who were convicted of endangering the welfare of their adopted children in 2015 will be resentenced, following a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The couple was convicted of child endangerment in federal court after a jury determined that they severely abused their three children. The wife was later sentenced to 24 years in federal prison, while the husband was sentenced to 400 hours of community service and probation.

The facts of this case were disturbing, involving a five-year period of starvation, water deprivation, and improper medical care for the children. After reviewing the sentences, the Court of Appeals ruled that the District Court committed several errors and that the defendants must be resentenced. Specifically, the court indicated that it agreed with government “that the District Court, while it could consider what would happen if Defendants had been prosecuted in state court, simply went too far in this case by focusing on state sentencing practices to the exclusion of federal sentencing principles” and that “the sentences themselves were substantively unreasonable.”

Had this case been prosecuted in New Jersey Superior Court, the potential sentence for the applicable child endangerment statute would have included a sentence of 5-10 years in state prison. The NJ Criminal Code sets forth different types of child endangerment offenses, generally focusing on either sex offenses or other abuse or neglect. Specifically, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a)(1) states that any person having a legal duty for the care of a child or who has assumed responsibility for the care of a child and who engages in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child is guilty of a crime of the second degree and any other person who engages in conduct or who causes such is guilty of a crime of the third degree. Additionally, according to N.J.S.A 2C:24-4(a)(2), any person having a legal duty for the care of a child or who has assumed responsibility for the care of a child and who causes the child harm that would make the child an abused or neglected child as defined in Title 9 is guilty of a crime of the second degree and any other person who engages in such conduct or who causes such is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

In addition to the criminal consequences for child endangerment or criminal charges for child abuse or neglect in New Jersey, there is always the potential for involvement of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”), formerly known as the Division of Youth and Family Services (“DYFS”), when any allegation of child abuse or neglect is made against parents. Additionally, DCP&P operates independently of the police and law enforcement.

If your family is involved with DCP&P due to allegations of child abuse or neglect, or you have been charged with child endangerment, or both, the New Jersey child abuse and neglect defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm are ready to fight for you. We have handled criminal defense matters in criminal court for parents accused of child endangerment and we have also defended parents in family court against allegations of child abuse or neglect. No matter your situation, if you are accused of the crime of child endangerment or if you are accused of child abuse or neglect by DCP&P, call the Tormey Law Firm today.

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