There are two sides to every story, but we often only get one side in the media. When we see stories about children left in cars, it usually involves irresponsible parents who went off partying or simply forgot about their children. But normally responsible people can also find themselves in a situation where they did something they should not have and it takes a police officer to remind them.
Leaving a child unattended in a car for any period of time is bad parenting, plain and simple. A responsible parent knows that a child must always be watched and taken care of for a wide variety of reasons. But when a child is left unattended, the law often does not discern between good parents and bad parents. In many states, parents who leave their children alone in cars are simply referred to as criminals.
What is the Charge?
In 2013, the mother of a four-year-old girl left her daughter in the family SUV as it was parked in a rural mall parking lot in Michigan. The mother meant no malice and she took steps to make sure her child was safe while she was gone. But when she returned 15 minutes later, she found a police officer waiting for her and big trouble headed her way.
This is an example of a lesser case of leaving a child unattended in a car, but the mother still faced jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. In Michigan, and many other states in the country, the criminal consequences for leaving a child unattended start at jail time and fines and go up from there.
In New York State
What is the minimum age for leaving a child unattended? If you were to ask a Staten Island lawyer, they will tell you that there is no age set in stone in New York law. Each jurisdiction throughout the state evaluates these types of cases individually and makes decisions based primarily on the circumstances.
In New York, the penalties for leaving a child unattended can vary from light jail time to serious jail time, heavy fines, and loss of the child. Child protective services will usually try to place the abandoned child with a family member, but that does not mean the parents get access to the child whenever they want. The family court system is set up to protect children in these situations and the more irresponsible a parent is, the worse their consequences.
A Staten Island lawyer can answer any questions you may have about the laws for leaving a child unattended in New York State. An attentive parent is one who understands that young children need constant supervision. But when a parent decides to leave a child on their own, there will be penalties and even the lightest penalties can be severe.