3601 McDonough Street, Joliet, IL 60431

Call Us815-727-0100

McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC

Is it Considered a Crime to Leave a Child Alone in a Car in Illinois?

 Posted on September 16, 2020 in Criminal Defense

Will County child endangerment defense attorneyIn today’s modern world, people are busy, often juggling taking care of a family while working or going to school. It is not uncommon for parents to take their kids on a quick errand. In some cases, they may even leave them in the car while they run into the bank or store if they can keep an eye on them through the window. However, in some cases, this can result in criminal charges for the parent, depending on the ages of the children who are left unattended. Illinois law specifies penalties for adults who endanger the life of a minor child (under 18), and in some cases, these situations may result in domestic violence or abuse charges. Child endangerment is defined as placing a minor in a situation where he or she could be hurt or killed. 

Child Endangerment 

According to Illinois law, parents who leave their children unattended and out of their view may be charged with child endangerment, a Class A misdemeanor. This crime carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine if convicted. The law applies to children age 6 and under who are left inside a car for 10 minutes or more without anyone who is at least age 14 with them or within eyesight. These charges may apply regardless of whether the vehicle is running or not. 

If the person who is charged is the child’s parent, he or she may receive probation depending on the details of the case. However, a second or subsequent conviction for child endangerment is charged as a Class 3 felony in Illinois. 

The punishment can be enhanced depending on several factors. If a child dies after being left unattended, that is considered a felony in Illinois, which carries 2-10 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

Health officials have long stressed that leaving a child unattended in a vehicle for any period of time has many risks. For example, a toddler who is not in a car seat can shift a car from Park to Drive, which can directly lead to a collision. Kids can also climb out of an automobile and become lost or even be kidnapped. It only takes an instant for carjackers to steal a vehicle while the child is sitting inside. In extreme weather, children can die from suffocation or heat stroke if the windows are closed. Alternatively, they may suffer frostbite or other injuries in sub-zero temperatures.

Contact a Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney

Domestic violence or abuse charges can encompass more than just physical violence. Child endangerment can lead to stiff penalties in Illinois, including jail time and costly fines. If you or someone you know is facing a criminal charge involving child endangerment, it is critical that you seek professional legal counsel to represent your and your family’s best interests. The skilled Will County domestic abuse defense lawyers at McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC understand how damaging any type of criminal charge can be to your personal and professional reputation. We will fight to help you avoid a conviction or have your charges dismissed altogether. Call our office today at 815-727-0100 to arrange a free consultation.


Share this post:
Will County Bar Association Illinois State Bar Association Lions Minooka AV 2019 Rotary DuPage County Bar Association Workers Compensation Lawyers Association
Back to Top