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Child Abuse – Leaving a Child in a Vehicle – Lawyer

As a child I remember my mother leaving my brother, sister, and myself in the car while she ran into the store on a regular basis. Well, times have changed, and now the legislature, and all of their wisdom, has made it a crime to leave a child in a motor vehicle unattended. This law may have been passed with good intentions, but in defending these charges it is clear that police are using this law as an excuse to write more tickets and harass citizens.

In this case, our client was charged with a crime for leaving her child in her car for 18 minutes. Ultimately the charge was dismissed, but not until we filed motions and held an evidentry hearing with the judge at the 35th District Court in Plymouth.

Leaving a Child in a Vehicle Unattended

Our client is employed as a lawyer at a prestigious law firm which means she faces consequences above and beyond what the average person would face because she must disclose any conviction to the state licensing board. In addition to working as a lawyer, she is a mother of three children.

Our client’s youngest child is still breast-feeding through the night. This has caused our to lose sleep to the point that she suffers from sleep deprivation.

On the day in question our client found herself in a strange predicament. On that day, her child would normally be in day care, but our client had the day off so she did not use day care and took her child with her while she ran errands for the family.

She arrived at the Wal-Mart in Canton to get groceries for the family. Her child was sleeping in her car seat. Our client, who was used to having her child in day care at that time of day and the child being asleep, our client did not see her when she left to go into the store.

Our client’s car was parked properly, in a public area, under surveillance, on a clear day, with the doors locked. The temperature that day was 45 degrees and the child was dressed appropriately in warm clothing including a jacket swaddled with a blanket, securely buckled into her car seat in a vehicle that was still warm from the drive there. A review of the Wal-Mart video reveals that our client was in the store for approximately 18 minutes.

When our client came out of the store, a police officer was already on the scene after a caller reported an unattended child in a vehicle. Our client tried to explain the accident but the officer issued a ticket. The officer stated that he did not believe our client, and that he believed she did see the child in the car and made the decision not to take her into the store with her. Ultimately, our client was charged with Leaving a Child Unattended in a Vehicle contrary to MCL 750.135A(1). This law is fairly new in Michigan and came into action within the last 10 years.

Defending Leaving a Child in a Vehicle Unattended – Lawyer

The matter was heard at the 35th District Court. The 35th District Court has jurisdiction over Northville, Plymouth, and in this case, Canton. Judge Lowe was the presiding judge for this case.

We argued that the prosecution failed to provide any facts that would lead any reasonable person to believe that there was an unreasonable risk of harm. Of course there are always hypotheticals, but the law needs something that is foreseeable. It was highly unlikely any harm would come to the child while the child was in a warm vehicle, wearing appropriate clothing, securely fastened in a car seat, in a locked car, in a populated area, under surveillance, that is frequented by Canton police.

The judge agreed with our argument but believed it to be a fact issue rather than a legal issue, meaning that a jury should decide if our client left the child in a position of unreasonable harm, not the judge. Frankly, I would like to appeal the decision. I believe that the legislature chose to include the words “unreasonable risk of harm” so that the prosecution would have to provide some fact of potential harm. If the legislature wanted to criminalize leaving a child in a car with nothing more they simply would have stated that a person shall not leave a child in a car unattended – period. The additional words of “unreasonable risk of harm” must have been added for a reason, and I believe that reason was because it was never intended that every single case result in a conviction or a trial.

I encouraged my client to go to trial. I think we had a fair shot, and at the least we may get a hung jury which would be just as good as a not guilty verdict for her. After all, I cannot be the only person whose parent would leave them in the car for a brief period of time to get some errands done. Someone on that jury would have agreed with us. Our client was offered a great deal that would end with a guarantee that she would not have a criminal conviction and she felt it was too good of an offer to pass up or risk a trial.

The prosecution ultimately caved and offered a plea deal to allow our client to plead guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, under a one-day deferral. This means that she plead guilty on a Tuesday and on Wednesday the case was dismissed and the criminal conviction wiped from her record. She paid a fine and left. A truly great result for the client that she was very happy with.

Canton Lawyer – 35th District Court lawyer

If you have been charged with leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle, or any other crime, call Michigan criminal lawyer, Aaron J. Boria. Boria represents those accused in the 35th District Court and allover the State of Michigan.

In this case our client was a lawyer. Aaron J. Boria is regularly hired by other attorneys to represent them. Hire the lawyer that the lawyers hire, and call Aaron J. Boria today. We take a limited number of cases per month to make sure that our clients receive the best possible representation. To see if your case would be a good fit for our firm call (734) 453-7806 today.