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Leaving a Minor Unattended in a Vehicle

Child car seat

According to Arizona law, leaving a minor unattended in a vehicle is not inherently illegal. This behavior might not automatically result in an arrest, but it could result in a criminal charge under certain circumstances.

Leaving a minor unattended in a vehicle is illegal when it places them at risk of harm. Additionally, no injuries need to occur before you are charged with a crime. If you face criminal charges over leaving a child alone, talk to a skilled attorney at Grand Canyon Law Group about your case.

Understanding Child Endangerment Laws

No specific statute under state law specifically applies to child endangerment. While most states have child endangerment laws, Arizona only has a general statute that applies to endangering any person. This means the same statutes apply to the health and safety of adults and children alike.

A person is guilty of endangering a child when they recklessly place them at risk of immediate severe injury or death. Whether the defendant’s actions were “reckless” can be subjective. To be found guilty of endangerment, the state must show the defendant was aware—or should have been aware—of the risks of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle but disregarded them.

Endangerment involving the substantial risk of injury is typically treated as a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail upon conviction. When endangerment results in a substantial risk of imminent death, this offense is upgraded to a felony. A felony conviction could result in up to 18 months in prison.

What if the Child is Hurt?

The risk of leaving a child unsupervised in a vehicle is that they could suffer injuries or even death. This is especially true in Arizona, where extreme heat can quickly prove to be fatal for a child in a locked car. An adult who leaves a child alone in a vehicle could face significant penalties if that child is injured or passes away.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Anyone who finds themselves in this situation could benefit from experienced legal counsel. This is true even if the police have not yet made an arrest. In this type of case, criminal charges could follow days or even weeks after a child is found in a car unattended.

Our seasoned attorneys could provide critical guidance for someone concerned about being charged with an endangerment crime. If the police have already made an arrest, representation from a dedicated lawyer is even more critical. Grand Canyon Law Group could work with prosecutors to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Our former prosecutors, now dedicated defense lawyers, know how to handle these cases the right way and protect accused people’s rights.

Consult an Attorney on Charges for Leaving a Child Unattended in a Vehicle

There are serious health and safety issues that come into play when a minor child is left unattended in a vehicle. However, leaving a child in a car does not always endanger them, nor does it always warrant criminal consequences.

When you face these allegations, now is the time to seek legal help. Call Grand Canyon Law Group for a consultation and learn how we can fight for you and your future.