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Mother Arrested for Child Endangerment after Child Found Wandering Alone

29-Jun-2015

A Tulsa mother was arrested on a complaint of child endangerment last week after her 3-year-old daughter was found walking alone along the side of the road. 

According to reports, the child was found around 4:00 p.m. Police said the little girl was unable to give them her name, and she could not tell them where she lived. They say they tried for more than two hours to find her parents, but when they were unable to do so, they took the child to a shelter.

At approximately 9:30 p.m., more than five hours after the 3-year-old was first found alone, a woman flagged down a patrol car near the area where the girl was discovered to report that her daughter was missing. 

Erika Nicole Collins, 31, was arrested on a child endangerment complaint and booked into the Tulsa County Jail. She is held on $25,000 bond.

Reports say that this is not the first time Collins has had an incident involving inadequate supervision of her daughter. Last July, says a local news report, the child was left unattended for more than an hour inside a Tulsa Walmart. However, an online court records search does not indicate that she was charged in the prior incident.

As of this writing, the mother has not been formally charged. 

Although the mother was arrested on a complaint of child endangerment, it is possible that if and when she is charged, the formal charge will be child neglect rather than child endangerment. Let us look at the statutory definition of each offense and the related consequences.

Child endangerment is defined in 21 O.S. § 852.1 as one of four specific acts:

  • Knowingly permitting child abuse or child sexual abuse; 
  • Knowingly permitting a child to be present where a controlled dangerous substance is manufactured;
  • Knowingly permitting a child to be present in a vehicle where the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • Driving or having actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and having children present in the vehicle.

Child endangerment is a felony, and the maximum penalty of conviction is four years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

The above elements of child endangerment do not seem to match the details reported in the incident described above. Instead, failure to adequately supervise a small child seems to more closely fit the definition of child neglect.

Child neglect is defined in 10A O.S. § 1-1-105 as follows:

a. the failure or omission to provide any of the following: 

(1) adequate nurturance and affection, food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, hygiene, or appropriate education,
(2) medical, dental, or behavioral health care,
(3) supervision or appropriate caretakers, or
(4) special care made necessary by the physical or mental condition of the child, 

b. the failure or omission to protect a child from exposure to any of the following: 

(1) the use, possession, sale, or manufacture of illegal drugs,
(2) illegal activities, or
(3) sexual acts or materials that are not age-appropriate, or 

c. abandonment.

The punishment for conviction of child neglect is prescribed in 21 O.S. § 843.5 as a maximum of life in prison and a fine of $500 to $5,000.



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