The Legal Reprecussions Of Leaving Your Child Unattended In The Car
Arizona is known for its desert climate, scorching summers, and mild winters. Yes, this type of weather is perfect for avid golfers and those with certain health conditions like migraines and asthma. However, as temperatures rise in Arizona, so does vehicular hyperthermia for children left unattended in cars. About 40 children die in cars in the United States due to vehicular hyperthermia, with Arizona ranking one of the highest among the states. These tragedies occur quite frequently, but Arizona has not joined the 20 states that have made it a crime to leave a child unsupervised in a car. Even so, parents in Arizona should know they could still be criminally liable for leaving their children in their cars unattended.
Arizona Laws That Can Be Used To Prosecute Parents
Although Arizona does not address the issue of leaving children unattended in cars directly like neighboring states of California, Nevada, and Utah, there are several laws that can still protect children, such as:
- Negligent Homicide. Under A.R.S. §13-1102, a person commits negligent homicide if with criminal negligence the person causes the death of another person. Negligent homicide is a class 4 felony.
- Endangerment. Under A.R.S. §13-1201, a person commits endangerment by recklessly endangering another person with a substantial risk of imminent death or physical injury. This can be either a class 6 felony or a class 1 misdemeanor.
- Child Abuse. Under A.R.S. §13-3623, a person commits child abuse when the child is put in a situation where death or serious injury is likely to occur. The type of felony that will be charged depends on the circumstances surrounding the death or serious injury.
What Parents Should Consider Before Leaving Their Child In The Car
It is common sense, not the threat of criminal liability, that should dissuade parents from leaving their child unattended in their cars. The following is a short list of what parents should consider:
- Temperatures in cars get exceedingly hot in a short period of time even when windows are cracked. Temperatures in cars can double the temperature outside in just an hour.
- Heat stroke may occur when body temperatures surpass 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms include dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, loss of consciousness, and/or death.
- Your child may be victimized. Aside from the threat of heat stroke or vehicular hyperthermia, parents should also be aware of the threat of kidnappers and carjackers before leaving their child in the car.
At Ariano & Reppucci we understand that most parents do have the common sense not to endanger their children by leaving their children in a hot car. In some cases, parents have acted reasonably given the length of time the child was left in the car, the distance between the adult and the car, the temperature, and the age of the child. However, the law and prosecutors may have a different viewpoint. Call Ariano & Reppucci for a free consultation.