Leaving Your Child in the Car: Know the Laws and Charges

You can face child endangerment charges if your actions cause child abuse. Leaving a child in a car in situations that present possible harm is unlawful in some states. In Colorado, there are no specific laws that govern leaving a child in a car but there are laws applicable in the area of child abuse.

Here are more details about your responsibility as a parent when it comes to leaving kids in cars.

Child Endangerment Each state defines child endangerment its own way. According to Colorado statute 18-6-401, if you place a child in a situation that can cause harm to the child, you can be guilty of child abuse. If you are legally responsible for a child and you willfully cause or allow them to suffer, you can be charged with a felony or misdemeanor.

Possible Charges Many times child endangerment is considered a misdemeanor. It can be upgraded to a felony charge if the child has been seriously injured as a result of being left unattended in a vehicle.

If a one-year-old child dies as a result of being left in the car with 100-degree temperatures and the windows rolled up, the person is charged with class-two felony child abuse that carries 8-24 years of imprisonment.

If parents leave their child in a car but don’t have any intent of harm and that child dies, it is considered a class-three felony that has a penalty of 4-12 years of imprisonment. If any kind of negligence causes serious injury to a child, it is a class-four felony.

If the injury is not considered serious, you can be guilty of class-one misdemeanor. When you leave your child in a hot car without air conditioning, even if there is no harm to the child, you can be guilty of class-two misdemeanor. In case of misdemeanors, you are charged with fines rather than imprisonment.

Avoid Leaving Children in a Car Always be aware of the temperature when you have a small child in your car. Leaving an infant in a car during hot temperatures can be fatal. It's best to make sure young children are supervised at all times, so that they are prevented from crawling out of windows.

See Also: Know About the Laws and Penalties of Underage DUI in CA

Keating and Lyden

Keating & Lyden LLC was founded by attorneys-at-law, Robert J. Keating, and Thomas P. Lyden and is based in Boulder, Colorado, and Bellingham, Washington. The attorneys specialize in providing legal advice in real estate matters to businesses and individuals pertaining to real estate management and operation including: tenancy in common agreements, partition agreements, real estate financing, homeowner’s associations and land use issues. They also provide the highest quality legal services to small business owners and entrepreneurs.

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