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Is It Assault To Leave A Child Alone In A Car?

On Behalf of | May 10, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Parents have a legal obligation to meet their children’s basic needs and to avoid actions that would endanger their children. Any Texas parents accused of doing something unsafe can face criminal charges. For example, in recent years, the media has drawn attention to the tragic trend of parents leaving children in vehicles for too long in high temperatures and the children dying as a result.

States have moved to change certain laws to deter risky behavior that might lead to these child hyperthermia deaths. Will someone who leaves their children in a car in Texas end up charged with assault?

Yes, the state has criminalized leaving children in a vehicle

Although thousands of parents daily leave their children unattended in a vehicle in a parking lot and briefly run an errand, the mistakes of a tiny minority of parents have led to changes in state law. Under state law, it is illegal to leave a child in a vehicle for more than five minutes if they are younger than seven years old and do not have someone at least 14 years old watching them. The state can pursue Class C misdemeanor assault offenses against someone who leaves a child behind in a car, even if the weather that day isn’t particularly hot. A Class C misdemeanor in Texas could mean up to $500 in fines.

Parents facing charges face more than criminal consequences

Those accused of an assault offense related to their children may need to respond assertively to avoid a criminal conviction, even if the only penalty possible is a pricey fine. Those with a record including assault charges could be at a disadvantage during custody proceedings or at higher risk of the state eventually removing their children from their homes.

Anyone who has been accused of taking actions that endangered or harmed their children could potentially defend against the charges in question and avoid the criminal consequences the state would impose if they pleaded guilty. Seeking legal guidance to learn more about Texas’ expansive assault statute may help those who are facing assault charges to plan the most reasonable means to mount a strong criminal defense.