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Mother faces criminal charges for leaving child alone in car

Every parent makes mistakes, despite how it may look to the casual Internet surfer. With the advent of parenting blogs, there are men and women across New Jersey and the country who purport to know the best way, nay the right way, to raise children. They may make themselves out to be flawless parents, but they too make mistakes. At what point, however, are those mistakes criminal?

For one woman, it was when she left her son in the car while she quickly ran into the store. She was only gone a few minutes on a temperate day, but it was enough to prompt a bystander to report her to police and for police to charge her with a crime. Though she was able to resolve her criminal charges with community service and parenting education, not all parents in New Jersey would be so lucky.

What many of us fail to remember is that "committing a crime" means more than using illegal drugs or assaulting someone. "Committing a crime" can be something as simple as leaving a child in a car for five minutes or letting a child walk unaccompanied to a friend's house. And, in certain situations, these crimes involving children could lead to questions of a parent's fitness or, possibly, a loss of parental rights.

Of course, it may seem silly to charge a parent with a crime just for briefly leaving a child unattended, but police, prosecutors, and the New Jersey Department of Children and Families will likely take these crimes seriously. And so should anyone charged with them, as the consequences can be severe.

Source: Salon, "The day I left my son in the car," Kim Brooks, June 3, 2014

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