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Can I Legally Leave My Child Alone at Home or in My Car to Run Errands in Llano County?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Llano criminal defense lawyerEvery parent is familiar with the following situation: You have a couple of small errands to run, and the process will take far less time if you can just leave the kids at home or dash into the post office while the kids are in the car. Buckling, unbuckling, dealing with coats and shoes, and the likelihood of constant whining can make even the most patient parent dread running into the grocery store for milk. 

Many parents choose to leave their children at home alone or in the car for a few minutes while they take care of their to-do list. These parents may be surprised to return to the car to find a concerned observer accompanied by a squad car - and even more surprised when they get charged with a Class C misdemeanor. If you are a parent with young children in Texas and you have been charged for leaving your child alone, consider getting help from a criminal defense attorney. 

When Can I Leave My Child in the Car Alone? 

Texas law explicitly prohibits leaving a child alone in a vehicle for more than five minutes under the following circumstances: 

  • The child is less than seven years old
  • There is no one else in the car who is 14 years old or older

The weather in Texas can be very hot and humid all year long, and even a brief period alone in the car can be long enough to kill a child or give them heatstroke. To prevent tragic deaths, it is a Class C misdemeanor to leave a child under seven years of age in a car alone without appropriate supervision. Conviction for a Class C misdemeanor allows for fines of up to $500 and permanent inclusion on your criminal record. 

When Can I Leave My Child Home Alone? 

Texas law does not have a specific provision detailing when a child is old enough to responsibly be left home by themselves. This is a decision left to parents who know their child’s maturity best. However, if the child is home alone and harm comes to them, a parent may be held responsible for neglectful supervision. While this is not a criminal charge, Child Protective Services may become involved. Before deciding whether to leave a child home alone, the parents should consider the following: 

  • Does the child know where the parent is, and can they easily contact them? 
  • Does the child know how to contact emergency assistance if necessary? 
  • Does the neighborhood have any risks or threats? 
  • If a child is old enough to be home alone, is he or she also responsible for supervising younger children? 

Call a Llano County Criminal Defense Attorney

It can be a shock to find out you are being charged with a crime for doing what many parents do without thinking twice. Yet criminal charges, no matter how foolish they may seem to you, can have serious and lasting consequences for your future. If you have been charged for leaving your child in a car alone, call an experienced Llano County criminal defense attorney with the Law Office of Russ Alan Baker, PLLC. We will do our best to help you build a strong defense and work hard to get your charges possibly reduced or dropped altogether. Call us today to schedule a free initial consultation at 325-216-2006

 

Sources: 

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.22.htm 

https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/child_protection/Child_Safety/child_supervision.asp

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