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Can I Face Criminal Charges for Leaving My Child in the Car in Texas?

 Posted on June 21, 2020 in Criminal Defense

Dallas child abuse defense attorney

For many parents, the way they raise their children is substantially different than the way that they were raised. Parents may assume that leaving their children in the car while they are shopping or otherwise engaged is not unsafe simply because they remember waiting in the car alone when they were a child. However, states are increasingly enacting legislation designed to prevent parents from leaving children unsupervised in vehicles. In 2019, 52 children passed away after being left in hot cars. In order to prevent these tragic deaths, Texas has made it illegal to leave children alone in vehicles under certain circumstances.

Leaving a Child in a Car May Be Considered a Criminal Offense

Texas is known for its extremely hot summers. Hot and humid weather makes the risk of a child developing heatstroke or dying in a hot car especially high. Many parents who leave their children in the car only intend to be gone for a few minutes, however, it only takes 10 minutes for an average car to heat up by 19 degrees. The Texas Department of State Health Services urges parents to teach children not to play inside of cars and to never leave a young child in a car unsupervised. 

According to the Texas Penal Code, an individual commits a criminal offense if he or she knowingly leaves a child in a vehicle for more than five minutes and the child is:

  • Younger than 7 years old 

  • Not supervised by a person at least 14 years old

Criminal Consequences of Leaving a Child in Vehicle

Leaving a child in a vehicle is a Class C misdemeanor in Texas. If convicted of leaving a child younger than age 7 in a car without proper supervision, you could be fined $500 and have the conviction documented on your criminal record. The Texas Family Code defines “neglectful supervision” as allowing a child to be in a situation in which he or she is at a significant risk of bodily injury or sexual contact. If you are charged with the criminal offense of leaving a child in a vehicle you may also be accused of neglectful supervision. This is not a criminal charge; however, it could lead to an investigation by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). If evidence of child abuse or neglect surfaces during the investigation, the child may potentially be removed from the home.  

Contact a Fort Worth Criminal Defense Attorney

Being convicted of a crime against a child can have dramatic consequences both personally and professionally. Tarrant County criminal lawyer Darlina Crowder has had extensive experience defending clients against serious charges related to crimes against children. She has secured hundreds of acquittals and not guilty verdicts throughout her accomplished career. Schedule a free, confidential consultation at The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. by calling us today at 214-544-0061.



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