Mother Investigated for Child Abuse Charges for Leaving Children in Car Unattended
On Tuesday afternoon, a mother left her five children in her car outside of her Aurora townhome. The children ranged in age from 10 months to 10 years. The mother only left the children for an estimated 5 to 15 minutes. During that time, the 2 year old girl got her head stuck in the power wimdow. The mother rushed her daughter to the hospital. The girl is in critical condition.
Aurora Police Department is investigating. APD will talk to neighbors and the other children. Ultimately, the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office will make the final determination as to whether to file charges and if charges are filed, what those charges will be.
Can Leaving a Child in a Car for 5 Minutes Result in Child Abuse Charges?
When people think of child abuse, people often think of a situation where a parent hits a child, leaving bad bruising, or a situation where a parent loses his or her patience and causes a more serious injury. However, in Colorado, there are varying degrees of child abuse. Child abuse can range from a situation where a parent acts negligently and there are no injuries to the child whatsoever. An example of this would be if a parent were to leave a child in a car unattended and that child was too young to be left unattended. The child need not suffer any injury. This level of child abuse would be a class 3 misdemeanor. Child abuse can also rise to the level of a felony if the child is seriously injured or dies and/or if the parent’s conduct is severe. For example, if a parent knowingly hits a child and, causing the death of the child, this level of child abuse would be a felony. In this situation, the parent need not have to specific intent to cause the death, but would nonethless be charged with child abuse resulting in death.
In the case referenced above, there are a number of factors that law enforcement and the DA’s office may consider in deciding whether and how to charge the mother. These factors may include things such as the weather (how hot was it), how long the mother was actually gone, the reason the mother left the children unattended, whether a 10 year old is old enough to supervise the other children left in the car, etc. These factors are important in determining whether the mother acted negligently or recklessly or knowingly and whether that conduct by the mother resulted im the injury to the child. In addition to charges for the 2 year old, the DA’s office could also decide to charge crimes for the other 4 children left in the car.
Child abuse charges can have additional consequences as well, such as a dependency and neglect action initiated by the Department of Human Services. If a court were to find that a child was dependent and neglected, it could result in loss of custody of the child.
If you or someone you know has been charged with child abuse, regardless of the severity of the charges, it is important to get an attorney. Taking a conviction for child abuse can have long lasting effects. Please contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help. 303-758-7700