Running Errands Can Lead to Criminal Charges22-Jul-2013
Everyone knows not to leave a child alone in a car on a hot day. Even on mildly warm days, the interior temperature of a vehicle can quickly reach upwards of 120 degrees, and the results can be fatal for children. Every summer, there are countless horror stories of moms, dads, and caregivers who forget a child in the back seat of a car and learn of their tragic moment of forgetfulness when they return to the vehicle later in the day.
There are parents who will intentionally leave a child in the car while they run a quick errand. Often, these parents feel their children are safe and protected because they leave the doors locked and the air conditioner running. However, not only is this often ill-advised, as overheating is not the only danger associated with being left unattended in a vehicle, in Oklahoma, it is against the law.
Last week, a Yukon woman was arrested and charged with child neglect after she left her 3-year-old twins unattended in her car as she shopped in a cosmetics store. Oklahoma City police noticed the children in the vehicle, which was left running with the air conditioner on. Police waited 40 minutes until the mother returned to the vehicle. Desiree Lynn Bolch, 35, was arrested on child neglect complaints and her children were taken into DHS custody.
Oklahoma is one of 19 states that expressly forbids leaving children alone in vehicles. The Forget-Me-Not Vehicle Safety Act enacted in 2008 criminalizes leaving children and vulnerable adults unattended in motor vehicles. The Act is outlined in 47 O.S. § 11-1119:B. A person responsible for a child who is six (6) years of age or younger, or a caretaker of a vulnerable adult as defined by Section 10-103 of Title 43A of the Oklahoma Statutes, shall not leave that child or vulnerable adult unattended in a motor vehicle if the conditions, including, but not limited to, extreme weather, inadequate ventilation, or hazardous or malfunctioning components within the vehicle present a risk to the health or safety of the unattended child or vulnerable adult.
Although the law describes obvious hazards, it also says hazardous conditions are not limited to those listed. This leaves the law open to the interpretation of police when making an arrest if he or she believes the child was placed at risk of harm by being left alone.Child neglect complaints are serious allegations, particularly if a parent does not believe he or she was placing the child in harm's way. Consult an attorney to restore your family as quickly as possible.
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