When representing clients in matters involving Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Penal Law ､260.10 New York criminal defense attorneys routinely deal with a host of different facts and circumstances. Sometimes a parent's activity clearly violates the statute when, for example, the child is assaulted. Other times, however, the actions which rise to the level of Endangering the Welfare of a Child are not clear. Recently, on August 6, 2008, Judge Michael Gerstein of the Kings County (Brooklyn) Criminal Court, held that leaving a child home alone may constitute Endangering the Welfare of a Child pursuant to PL ､260.10.
In People v. Carmen Reyes, 2008KN019196, a four year old child was left home alone for fifteen minutes. Ms. Reyes' criminal defense attorney made a motion to dismiss the complaint for facial insufficiency arguing, in part, that prosecution provided no facts that would support the contention that the Defendant knowingly acted in a manner that would be dangerous to the child.
Justice Gerstein held "that the issue of whether there is some minimum time that a child must be left alone in order to hold a defendant liable under PL 260.10(1) is ill-suited for resolution on a motion to dismiss for facial insufficiency. Among the factors which would appear appropriate for consideration are the age of the child, the length of time involved, the maturity of the particular child, and the reason why the child was left alone. While the statute, by its terms, protects all children under seventeen years of age, no one would think of applying the same rule to a sixteen year old as to an infant left home alone."
In finding that a trial was necessary to resolve the issues in the case, the Court noted that "home alone" cases are generally not resolved by a motion to dismiss, but at at trial. While there are some clear examples of when the statute is violated in "home alone" cases, each case must be assessed with the facts and should not be dismissed for facial insufficiency.
While each case must be analyzed individually, a New York criminal defense attorney who has experience in this area of practice will be able to do just that. Founding member, Jeremy Saland, served for seven years as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and is not only proficient at assessing these cases, but will do so in a manner that will keep you involved and educated in the entire process.