An Oklahoma City mother is charged with child neglect after she allegedly left her children home alone while she went clubbing with a friend.
Police were called to an apartment complex after residents reported a toddler wandering outside alone, wearing only a diaper. When they arrived, they found several adults looking after the child, who appeared to be about a year old. They then heard a child's voice calling for help, and they went into an apartment to find a small child sleeping in a playpen and an apparently 6 or 7-year-old child who claimed to have been left in charge when their mother went out.
When the mother, identified as Tiffany E. Kemp, 30, returned home, she told police that she had indeed gone out with a friend, but that she left her children under the supervision of another adult. A child who overheard the woman's comment disputed the story, saying, "She left us here alone. Mama lied."
Police arrested Kemp and booked her into the Oklahoma County Jail on a complaint of child neglect as well as on outstanding warrants for driving with a suspended license, operating a vehicle with an altered license plate, and operating a vehicle with taxes due the state.
As of this writing, she is held on $2,000 bond for the motor vehicle charges and $10,000 bond for the child neglect complaint.
Child neglect is a serious offense, and conviction can bring severe penalties.
Oklahoma law defines neglect as a failure to provide necessities for a child; a failure to protect a child from exposure to drugs, sexual activity, or illegal activity; or abandonment.
The basic necessities for a child's well-being, the deprivation of which can lead to neglect charges, include the following:
- Nurturance and affection
- Sanitation and hygiene
- Appropriate education
- Health care, including medical, dental, and behavioral health care
- Supervision and "appropriate caretakers"
- Any special care necessary because of a child's physical or mental condition
A kindergartener or first grader is not likely to ever be considered an "appropriate caretaker" for two toddlers. Leaving young children unsupervised is not only risky, it is also criminal.
Child neglect, under 21 O.S. § 843.5, is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison; however, the sentence is typically reserved for cases of chronic or "heinous and shocking neglect." Less egregious offenses carry lighter sentences, with punishments more similar to those associated with a misdemeanor than a felony.
Skillful criminal defense is important in child neglect cases, not only to avoid unnecessary penalties, but also to restore your family and get your children back if they have been taken away from you. Call to learn more.