Endangering the Welfare of a Child (EWOC)

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If I have never been arrested and now I am charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child (hereinafter “EWOC”) can I go to jail?

In Pennsylvania, there are sentencing guidelines that are supposed to guide the judge in determining the range of applicable sentence that would be appropriate. Two factors are considered: 1. your prior convictions; and 2. the gravity of the current case.

EWOC can be one of two different crimes, both similar to domestic violence. EWOC as a misdemeanor of the first degree is a single occurrence where you did something that put the child in danger. An example would be leaving a 2-year-old home alone so that you could go to the store, or go to your dealer’s house to buy pot. In this instance, unless the underlying act was absolutely horrible, I can’t see many judges giving you jail time, but remember in PA sentencing is discretionary.

EWOC as a felony of the third degree is a ‘continuing course of conduct’ detrimental to the child’s welfare. This means that the occurrence happens over and over again. For example, turning a blind eye while your husband (the 8-year old’s stepdad) rapes her over and over again because he keeps supplying you with crystal meth; or getting a second or third DUI with the kid in the car seat, where each DUI involved a kid in the car; or getting a fourth or fifth ticket with the kid, not in a car seat. In this instance, you absolutely can get jail time or house arrest depending on the seriousness of the act. If the acts involve sex or pornography, I think you could get some time.

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