What are the Legal Consequences of Child Abandonment?

When a parent, guardian, or an adult in charge of a child deserts the child with the intent to completely abandon them, they are said to have abandoned them. While leaving a child at a stranger’s doorstep when no one is home constitutes physical abandonment, there are extreme instances of emotional abandonment as well, such as when a parent/guardian who is a “workaholic” provides little to no emotional, physical, or financial support over an extended period.

Consequently, abandoned kids who don’t have their basic needs met frequently develop issues including low self-esteem, emotional dependency, hopelessness, and others as they get older.

A person suspected of leaving a child may face felony or misdemeanor penalties, among others.

What Amounts to Abandonment of a Child?

The phrase “child abandonment” is broadly defined and applied to several actions.

Although there are many different types of abandonment, prevalent behaviors that could result in charges include:

  • Leaving a child unsupervised with a stranger for three months without making arrangements for the child’s upkeep or having any significant contact with them
  • Leaving the house alone for a long enough amount of time to put the child at serious risk of injury
  • Failing to keep up frequent contact with a child for a minimum of six months
  • Making meager attempts to support and interact with a child
  • Ignoring a notice that child protection proceedings are being initiated
  • Refusing to take part in a parenting plan or program intended to bring a parent and child back together
  • Leaving a baby on a doorstep, in a dumpster or garbage can, or by the side of the road

Child Abandonment Laws

Each state has its own set of laws. Some states have legislation expressly targeting the act of abandoning a kid, but many states include deserting a child inside their child abuse laws and vice versa. Child desertion is a legal term that refers to both physical and emotional abandonment of a kid, including neglecting to provide a child’s basic necessities. For instance, failing to give a kid the appropriate clothing, food, housing, or medical care may constitute parental desertion in some states.

Potential Penalties

A person accused of criminal child abandonment may be subject to a variety of punishments and sentencing choices depending on the state and whether the crime is classified as a felony or misdemeanor. The above-mentioned elements will be taken into account by the court, but possible punishments include fines, the loss of parental rights, closely supervised visitation with the kid, and jail time.

In addition, if a child dies as a result of the abandonment, a person may be charged with reckless abandonment, which carries a harsher punishment. Probation or a prison sentence of up to five years is frequently included in sentencing. In more severe circumstances, the sentence may entail a longer prison term.

Failure to Report

In states with required reporting laws, failing to report child abuse or neglect can result in fines and repercussions as well. These regulations often only apply to specific people who have the authority to spot child abuse. Among others, this may apply to teachers, doctors, or law enforcement. Consult the experienced lawyers at Autrey Law Firm in case you are facing child abandonment charges.