Abandonment of a child

Abandonment of a child is the failure of a parent, guardian, or person in charge of a child, to provide support to him/her. This occurs with the intention of wholly abandoning the child without any regard for his/her physical health, safety or welfare. In some instances, the parents fails to provide necessary care for a child living under their roof. New York State classifies child abandonment as a class E felony.

Under N.Y. Pen. Law § 260.00, a person is guilty of abandonment of a child when, being a parent, guardian or other person legally charged with the care or custody of a child less than fourteen years old, he/she deserts such child in any place with intent to wholly abandon him/her.

A person is guilty not of abandonment of a Child, when he/she engages in the conduct described in subdivision one of this section:

  1. with the intent that the child be safe from physical injury and cared for, in an appropriate manner;
  2. the child is left with an appropriate person, or in a suitable location and the person who leaves the child promptly notifies an appropriate person of the child’ location; and
  3. the child is not more than thirty days old.

Child abandonment involves both physical abandonment and emotional abandonment. Abandoned children, called “foundlings”, often grow up with low self-esteem, emotional dependency, helplessness, and other issues.

Leaving a child with another person without provision for the child’s support and without meaningful communication for a period of three months, or leaving an infant on a doorstep, in trash cans and dumpsters, or failing to respond to notice of child protective proceedings, are only few examples of child abandonment.

Some states include abandonment in their definitions of child neglect. In New York, abandonment is separate from definition of neglect.

New York State first enacted the Abandoned Infant Protection Act in July 2000 to save the lives of unwanted, newborn infants. The Act allows a parent to abandon a newborn baby up to 30 days of age anonymously and without fear of prosecution, if the baby is abandoned in a safe manner. The law was amended to provide additional incentive for any person who is going to abandon a baby to do so in a manner that does not harm the baby. Previously, an infant could be abandoned only in the first five days of its life.

Leaving a Child at Home Alone

The decision is left to the discretion of parents. The New York law does not set a minimum age that a child must be before he/she can left alone. Parents are responsible for deciding whether or not their child is mature and responsible enough to take care of him-/herself. Before you leave your child home alone, carefully consider his/her emotional maturity and readiness.

If you find yourself in such a situation you must contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Abandonment of a child may result in the loss of your parental rights. A criminal defense lawyer may reduce or lessen the severity of penalties in all cases involving abandonment of a child.