Although it is considered wrong to leave a small child alone, almost every parent has done it for at least a few minutes at one time or another. You may leave a child in a car while you run into the grocery store to pick up an item or two or you may run across the street to the gas station for some cold medicine for your kid when they are sick. If it really is only a few minutes, you know they will be okay. However, leaving a child alone in a car is illegal if you are gone for too long.
Everyone knows you should not leave a very small child or pet in a car in the summer with the windows rolled up. Not everyone knows that in Florida it is illegal to leave a child in a running car for even one minute. Although many people believe it is okay to leave a child or animal in a running car if the heat or air conditioning is on, it is illegal in Florida.
You are legally allowed to leave a pet or child in a car for 15 minutes or less. There may be exceptions to this rule if the child is sick or disabled. You should always leave the window open a crack. It does not matter if the car is parked in the driveway of your home or if you are on public or private property.
What is the penalty for leaving a child in a car?
The penalty for leaving a child in a car can go up to $500. If it is the first offense and the child is unharmed, it will be considered a second-degree misdemeanor. A second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by 60 days in jail in the state of Florida.
If the child is injured in any way, or if it is a repeat offense, it will be considered a third-degree felony which can come with a prison sentence of up to five years.
If you are accused of leaving a child in a car, you may have some major legal bills. You will need a criminal defense lawyer in Orlando to defend you if you have been accused of leaving a child in a car. If a person neglects their children consistently, they may lose custody of them temporarily or even permanently. In addition to the criminal lawyer you will need due to the neglect charges, you may need a family lawyer to get custody of your children.
Good Samaritan Laws
When a person is trapped in a car that is too hot, they may get heatstroke. They may become nauseous and even pass out. There are good samaritan laws in the state of Florida that allow passers-by to break the window of a car, or otherwise, break into a car to rescue a child or an animal. They must believe that someone in the car is in distress, the car is locked, and there is no other way to get in.
A citizen must call 911 and let them know that they have broken into the car. They must stay with the child or animal in the car until the police arrive and are not allowed to use any more force than necessary to break into the car.
When a child is found unattended in a car, they will be taken into the custody of the Department of Children and Families and not released until the parents can be located. In some cases, the parent may not be given immediate custody of the child.
What to Look for in a Lawyer
Although you should never leave your children in a car alone, it happens sometimes. You may honestly think you will only be gone for a few minutes and then become unavoidably detained. You may have entrusted your child’s care to a friend or family member only to have them abandon the child and blame you.
A criminal defense attorney will present your side of the story to the court. They will know the details of the laws in your case and will know if there are exceptions to the law regarding your case. They will have experience arguing in front of a jury and will have up-to-date information on any recent cases that are similar to yours.
You should look for an attorney who has many years of experience in child neglect cases. They should have a good reputation with the state bar and be able to provide references.
Charges of child neglect are devastating. If you have been accused of leaving a child in your car, an attorney can help you retain your freedom so you can take good care of your kids and watch them grow up to be healthy adults.