PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
George W. Kennedy, District Attorney
Dan Nishigaya, Deputy District Attorney
Physical Abuse of Children & Elderly Unit (PACE)
Jaime V. Stringfield, Deputy District Attorney
Domestic Violence Unit
For Release on August 1, 2003
DANGERS OF LEAVING CHILDREN UNATTENDED IN CARS
The District Attorney’s Office reminds the community of the extreme danger of leaving children unattended in cars. Any child left unattended in a car faces multiple hazards including emotional distress, kidnapping, abuse by a stranger, and accidental injury. In hot weather, however, a child is also exposed to elevated temperatures, which may cause severe injury, permanent disability or death.
Caregivers who leave children unattended in cars face a variety of legal consequences. It is an infraction, punishable by a fine and participation in a community education program, to leave a child six years or younger unsupervised in a car when there is a significant risk to the child’s health and safety or when the engine is left running or the keys are left in the ignition. A caregiver may also be charged with misdemeanor child endangerment, punishable by up to a year in county jail, for placing a child in a situation where the child’s person or health may be endangered. If the circumstances are likely to result in great bodily harm or death, the crime may be elevated to a felony punishable by up to six years in state prison. If a child dies as a result of being left unattended in a car, the caregiver may be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter and face up to four years in prison.
Child endangerment is criminal. Never leave a child unattended in a car.