Unlawful Conduct Towards a Child

The most common criminal charge when it comes to cases involving child victims is Unlawful Conduct Towards a Child. The offense is codified in SC Code Ann. § 63-5-70. The offense is a felony offense and carries a possible sentence of up to ten years in prison.

What Must be Proven by the State

First, the State must prove that the law is applicable to the case. Not all persons are subject to this law. The State must prove that the defendant is a person who has charge or custody of a child, or is the parent or guardian of a child, or is responsible for the welfare of a child.

Next, the State must prove one of the following elements:

  • An unreasonable risk to the child’s life, physical or mental health or safety;
  • Unlawful and malicious (or intentional) bodily harm to the child that was so substantial it endangered the child’s life or health; or
  • Intentional abandonment of the child.

Therefore, the State must prove a legal relationship between the defendant and the child, and some type of serious conduct towards the child.

Defenses to Unlawful Conduct Towards a Child

Two defense strategies that arise in cases of Unlawful Conduct Towards a Child are challenging the legal relationship between the child and the defendant, and challenging the actual alleged conduct as not rising to the level of actually endangering the child’s life or health.

If the defendant was the boyfriend or girlfriend of the child’s parent, or just a guest in the home, likely the necessary relationship would not be present.

The issues involved in assessing whether the conduct was serious enough to endanger the child’s life or health can include the conduct at hand, the age of the child, and the circumstances surrounding the conduct.

Last, even without a firm defense, it vital to mitigate the situation to bargain for better treatment regarding the charged offense or sentencing. For example, a defendant might complete counseling programs, parenting classes, domestic abuse programs, or obtain psychological treatment. Mitigation can sometimes lead to a second chance for even a guilty defendant.

If charged with Unlawful Conduct Towards a Child, it is imperative to seek experience criminal defense representation, an attorney who has successfully handled cases of this nature. Be sure to interview any prospective attorney and ask questions of experience with your specific type of case.

T. Kirk Truslow practices solely in the area of criminal defense law, and has been a licensed attorney for more than thirty years. Truslow has successfully handled cases involved Unlawful Conduct Towards a Child. Contact T. Kirk Truslow at (843) 449-3304 or visit www.attorneytruslow.com.