October 12, 2023 By Paul Wallin

Is It Illegal To Leave Your Child In The Car Alone?

As a resident of California, you may be wondering if it is illegal to leave your child alone in the car. The short answer is yes, it is illegal. However, there are certain exceptions that you should be aware of before drawing any conclusions.

If you are facing charges for leaving a child alone in a car, you need an aggressive defense attorney on your side. Choosing Wallin & Klarich to represent your case puts you in a better position to receive the best outcome for your case. We have over 40 years of experience in Southern California. Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL  for your free consultation!  

California Vehicle Code 15620

California Vehicle Code 15620 makes it illegal to leave a child under 6 years old unattended in a car without the supervision of someone 12 years or older when either of the following circumstances are present:

  • There are conditions present that present a significant risk to the child’s health or safety.
  • The vehicle’s engine is running or the keys are in the ignition.

An example of a condition that presents a significant risk to the child’s health or safety is leaving the child in the car on a hot day, even if it is only for a few minutes. 

VC 15620 – Penalties

California Vehicle Code 15620 also outlines the consequences or penalties you face if you violate this law. While there is no jail time associated with this infraction, you can face a fine of $100. Depending on your economic status, this fine can be waived, and the judge can order you to take a community education program which teaches the dangers of leaving a child in an unattended car. 

While the penalties for this infraction are not life-altering, it is still important to hire a skilled defense attorney if you have been accused of violating VC 15620. Your attorney will be able to help you navigate every step of the judicial process, and get the best possible outcome for your case. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 40 years of experience representing cases like yours. Call our office today for a free consultation!

Child Endangerment – PC 273a

While California Vehicle Code 15620 does not impose hefty penalties, you can also be charged with child endangerment for leaving a child in a car unattended under California Penal Code Section 273a. PC 273a defines child endangerment as willfully causing or permitting a child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering. You can be charged with this offense if it is your child, but also if you are caring for the child. For example, if you are babysitting a child and engage in any activity that constitutes child endangerment, you can be charged under Penal Code 273a. 

The penalties for violating PC 273a are much more severe than the penalties for violating VC 15620. This crime can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony. For a misdemeanor, you face up to a year in county jail. For a felony, you face 2-6 years in prison. Additionally, you may be placed on probation and be required to complete a child abuse counseling program. Finally, depending on the circumstances of the case, you could have your child taken away from you.

If you are found guilty of child endangerment, your local social services agency will likely reach out to you and carry out a thorough investigation to assess the well-being and safety of the child. A social worker will visit your residence and conduct interviews with you and other household members to evaluate whether the child is at risk of harm.

In the event of a credible danger to the child’s safety, the social worker may remove the child from your care and initiate legal proceedings in juvenile dependency court by filing a petition.

While leaving a child alone in a car for a few minutes may not seem like a big deal, it can have life-changing consequences. If you have been accused of any of these violations or are at risk of having your child taken away from you, you need an experienced defense attorney on your side fighting for you. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have the experience you need. We offer exceptional service, experience, and affordable payment options to help you manage the cost of hiring a defense attorney. Call our office today for a free consultation!

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you have been accused of child endangerment, you need an aggressive defense attorney to fight for your freedom. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped thousands of clients win their cases or get their charges reduced to a lesser degree. We know the most effective defenses to argue on your behalf, and we will do everything in our power to help you achieve the best possible result in your case. 

You may not be aware of all your options. Calling our office costs you nothing, but picking up the phone could be the difference between years in prison and years of freedom. Let our skilled attorneys examine your case to find the best way to avoid prison.Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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