Virginia Mother Charged with Felony Child Endangerment
It can be difficult to tell when your child is ready to stay home on their own. However, there are ages that are simply too young, no matter the situation. One Prince William County resident was charged with felony child endangerment this May when the police discovered her 10-year-old daughter home alone for a considerable length of time. The police were contacted by a family member who the child had called. When they arrived at the home, they discovered the young girl had been left alone while her mother went on an out-of-state trip. Based on the situation, an arrest warrant was issued and the mother was arrested later that day when she returned home.
Felony Child Endangerment
Under Virginia law, any parent, guardian, or other adult responsible for caring for a minor child, whose willful act or omission in the care of such child was so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life, is guilty of a Class 6 felony. Leaving a young child home alone for a significant period of time, such as overnight, can be considered a willful omission of care that is gross, wanton, and culpable. During this time, a young child may not be able to proper care for him or herself. In the specific case above, a 10-year-old girl may not fully understand the risks of being home alone, be able to protect herself from danger, or be able to understand when she should leave the house or seek help.
Criminal Punishments for Child Endangerment
Class 6 felonies in Virginia are punishable by imprisonment between one to five years or time in jail up to one year as well as a fine of up to $2,500. This is the lowest level felony possible in Virginia. However, while a parent may only be jailed or imprisoned for a few months or a year when the circumstances permit, they will also end up with a felony on their criminal record. This can hold them back from obtaining a new job, moving up at work, getting approved for rental housing, or obtaining loans. It also has significant consequences for that parent’s right to see their child.
Convictions May Affect Child Custody
When a parent is convicted of child abuse or neglect, it may alter their child custody or visitation rights. The child may be immediately removed from the home and temporarily put in the state or another family member’s care. It will then be up to the court and family members to determine the child’s current best interests, including where he or she will live while the parent is imprisoned. Once a mother or father has completed the punishment for the offense, they may seek to obtain some custody or visitation of the child again. It will be up to the court again to decide the child’s best interests. However, the parent with a child abuse or neglect conviction has greatly hurt their chance of being a custodial parent.
Contact a Leesburg Family Attorney Today
Any parent who has been accused of child abuse or neglect should work with an experienced Leesburg family law attorney who has experience in both family matters and family-related criminal law. At Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC, we have the experience, skills, and resources a parent needs to face this charge. Call us today at 703-997-4982.