CHILDREN, HOT CARS, AND CALIFORNIA LAW

Posted on: May 8, 2015 by in Criminal Defense
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California Vehicle Code 15620 and California Penal Code 273a

Orange County criminal defense lawyerSummer’s almost here, and that means southern California children will once again be at risk. Under California Vehicle Code 15620 – known as “Kaitlyn’s Law” – leaving an unsupervised child in a motor vehicle is a violation punishable by a $100 fine. If you “hop out” for a moment to “run in” a convenience store, for example, and you leave your child in your car, you could be cited for violating Kaitlyn’s Law. However, if an unattended child becomes injured in a vehicle, or if “medical services are rendered on that child,” you could face a charge of child endangerment under California Penal Code 273a. If you are charged either with child endangerment or with violating Kaitlyn’s Law, exercise your right to remain silent, and contact an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer immediately.

Vehicles warm up rapidly in the California sun. When it’s 85 degrees outside, a vehicle parked in the sun can reach an interior temperature of 120 degrees in under an hour. Since 1998, every summer in the U.S., an average of 38 children die from hypothermia in unattended, overheated vehicles. Even in the best weather conditions, however, leaving an unattended child in a vehicle is extremely risky. Parents can take these precautions:

  • Never leave a child alone in or around a vehicle.
  • Never overlook sleeping infants.
  • Make sure all the children exit your vehicle when you arrive at your destination.
  • Keep car keys away from children at all times.
  • Always lock your vehicle, even at home.
  • Teach children never to play in, on, or around vehicles.

Child endangerment is a “wobbler” charge in California, which means that it can be prosecuted as either a felony or as a misdemeanor depending on the exact circumstances of the case. A felony conviction for child endangerment could land you in prison for up to six years. If you are charged in Orange County with child endangerment or with a violation of Kaitlyn’s Law, speak promptly to an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer.

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