Minnesota Child Neglect Attorneys

Both child neglect and child endangerment charges stem from how a child is cared for or treated while under the care of a parent, guardian, or caretaker. The potential actions include not properly taking care of a child or allowing a child to be abused. The charges have significant ramifications for not just you but your entire family. Just being charged may be enough to separate you from your child or children. If you're facing these charges, you need to contact one of our Minnesota child neglect attorneys to fully understand your best defense and what these charges entail. For more information, please read the guide we've provided below.

Child Neglect

Child neglect charges occur when someone is suspected of depriving a child in their care of necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, health care, or appropriate supervision.

Minnesota covers what acts constitute child neglect under Minnesota Statute 609.378, a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker commits neglect of a child under one of two circumstances:

  1. Intentionally depriving a child of necessary food, clothing, shelter, health care, or appropriate supervision.
  2. Knowingly permitting the continuing physical or sexual abuse of a child.

Both crimes are gross misdemeanor offenses and the first circumstance may be a felony sentence of a maximum of five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000 depending on the level of harm to the child.

Regarding the second circumstance, the courts have interpreted the ‘knowingly’ element to require proof that the defendant perceived conduct or contact that violated the statute. ‘Permitting’ is likewise undefined by the statute, leading the courts to use the plain meaning of the term: “to allow the doing of (something); consent to.”

Child Abuse

There are no specific charges in Minnesota for child abuse but malicious punishment of a child is the closest equivalent. Child neglect and malicious punishment could certainly be charged together under the right circumstances. We cover this in great detail on our page devoted to the crime.

Information on child sexual abuse can be found under child sex crimes.


In past cases, the State has unsuccessfully argued that the “knowingly permitting” element was satisfied by a showing that the Defendant did not report the conduct to a government agency. The court quickly dismissed this argument saying that involving the government is not required. Using this, the State would have a hard time carrying proving its case if a defendant can show that he or she took some action to disapprove of the alleged conduct.

By statute, there is a complete defense to this crime where there was fear in the mind of the defendant that acting to prevent the neglect or abuse would result in substantial bodily harm to the defendant or child in retaliation. This can likely be shown by a course of history between the defendant and alleged perpetrator where harm or the threat of harm has occurred.

We've seen in past cases where one parent of a child coerced their children into accusing their other parent of neglect or abuse. Children can and do lie. Whether or not they understand their actions doesn't matter.

North Star Criminal Defense - Proven Minnesota Child Neglect Attorneys

A successful defense must take a diligent and aggressive approach. Diligence in learning everything about the facts from all angles, which may involve retaining a private investigator, and aggressive in arguing why your actions do not amount to neglect as defined by statute and interpreted by the courts. North Star Criminal Defense is the right neglect of child defense attorney for you. Contact our criminal defense team today for a free consultation.