Woman Arrested After Her Four Children Died in Fire, Faces Child Endangerment Charges
The mother of four children who died in a mobile home fire earlier in the week was arrested on Thursday, April 25th, and charged with one count of unlawful conduct toward a child, a serious child endangerment charge.
According to Darlington County Sheriff Wayne Byrd, more charges are pending against 21-year-old Hope Hawkins.
On Wednesday, April 24th, firefighters arrived at Hawkins’s home. The woman stood outside the burning house and pleaded with firefighters to save her four children, who were still inside. The children ranged in age from 10 months to 4 years.
The firefighters were unable to save the four children, who died of smoke inhalation, according to the county coroner.
It took firefighters only 10 minutes to put out the mobile home fire in Hartsville, SC, a town of 8,000 people.
Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire. They are not sure where Hawkins was when the fire started. They indicated that the outside of the home appeared relatively undamaged, compared to the charred inside.
Child Endangerment and Unlawful Conduct Towards a Child in South Carolina
According to South Carolina Law:
“(A) It is unlawful for a person who has charge or custody of a child, or who is the parent or guardian of a child, or who is responsible for the welfare of a child as defined in Section 63-7-20 to:
(1) place the child at unreasonable risk of harm affecting the child’s life, physical or mental health, or safety;
(2) do or cause to be done unlawfully or maliciously any bodily harm to the child so that the life or health of the child is endangered or likely to be endangered; or
(3) wilfully abandon the child.
(B) A person who violates subsection (A) is guilty of a felony and for each offense, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”
Unlawful conduct towards a child and child endangerment carry harsh penalties in the state of South Carolina, even if the child’s injury or wrongful death were completely accidental.
Child endangerment occurs when an adult, whether a parent or caregiver, places a child in a dangerous situation that is inappropriate or could cause them harm.
Child endangerment is not exactly the same thing as child abuse since it doesn’t involve directly causing harm, but still carries stiff penalties and possible prison time.
Child endangerment includes both placing a child in physical danger and exposing a child to dangerous or illegal adult situations.
- Caregivers driving under the influence
- Exposing children to illegal drug use
- Exposing children to firearms
- Failing to use proper safety restraints
- Domestic Violence
If You Face Child Endangerment Charges, The Strom Law Firm Can Help
Criminal charges, including child endangerment and unlawful conduct towards a child, are serious and frightening. Harsh penalties, including steep fines and jail time, can ruin your family and personal life, even if you are acquitted. Do not let criminal charges in South Carolina ruin your good name. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm collectively have over 50 years of experience with the law on both a state and federal level. We offer free, confidential consultations so you can discuss the facts of your case with impunity. Contact us today for help.803.252.4800.