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OKC Woman Charged with Neglect after Daughter Locked Outside

29-Nov-2013

An Oklahoma City woman has been charged with child neglect after her daughter was locked outside while her mother was sleeping, and a neighbor reported that this is not an unusual scenario.

According to police, a 7-year-old girl came home from school to a locked apartment and was unable to rouse her mother to let her inside. The girl went to a neighbor's apartment. By 9:15 that evening, nearly 6 hours later, the neighbor notified police, fearing for the woman's safety. 

When police arrived, they, too, were unable to awaken 46-year-old Daphne Steen by knocking on the door. An officer crawled in through a window to open the front door, and police discovered Steen asleep in her bed.

The mother told police that she had taken medication that caused her to fall asleep and that she did not hear anyone knocking. She was arrested on a complaint of child neglect and booked into the Oklahoma County jail on $10,000 bond. She also has more than $2,500 in unpaid citations and traffic tickets. The girl was left in the custody of her father.

When police investigated, the neighbor allegedly told them that she sometimes babysits the girl and that the child often comes to her apartment if she arrives home from school and her mother isn't there. A family member told investigators that the girl does not get frequent baths and often wears the same clothes without washing. The 7-year-old told police that her mother once gave her an e-cigarette so she would stop talking.

If the allegations are true, hopefully this situation will serve as a wake-up call (pun not intended) for the mother, who can get the help she needs to develop the parenting skills to take appropriate care of her daughter.

Child neglect is defined in the Oklahoma Children's Code in 10A O.S. § 1-1-105 as the failure or omission to provide adequate affection, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, and/or health care; the failure to protect children from exposure to illegal drugs, illegal acts, or sexual acts or materials; or abandonment.

Child neglect is criminalized and penalized in accordance with 21 O.S. § 843.5. Both child neglect and enabling child neglect are punished equally under the law:

C. Any parent or other person who shall willfully or maliciously engage in child neglect shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections not exceeding life imprisonment, or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one (1) year, or by a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or both such fine and imprisonment. As used in this subsection, "child neglect" means the willful or malicious neglect, as defined by paragraph 46 of Section 1-1-105 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes, of a child under eighteen (18) years of age by another. 

D. Any parent or other person who shall willfully or maliciously engage in enabling child neglect shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections not exceeding life imprisonment, or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one (1) year, or by a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or both such fine and imprisonment. As used in this subsection, "enabling child neglect" means the causing, procuring or permitting of a willful or malicious act of child neglect, as defined by paragraph 46 of Section 1-1-105 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes, of a child under eighteen (18) years of age by another. As used in this subsection, "permit" means to authorize or allow for the care of a child by an individual when the person authorizing or allowing such care knows or reasonably should know that the child will be placed at risk of neglect as proscribed by this subsection.

With a maximum penalty of life in prison, it is clear that Oklahoma legislators and prosecutors take cases of child neglect seriously. If you have been accused of child neglect or abuse, time is of the essence. The prosecution is busy building its case against you, so why should you wait to take the necessary steps to protect yourself? You simply cannot afford to waste time searching for Oklahoma City lawyers who can help you take a proactive approach to your defense. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Adam R. Banner, P.C. can quickly help you restore your family and get your life back on track. Contact us today at (405) 778-4800. 



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