Law Offices of Tim Powers, Denton Texas
Recently on the news, there was a story of a dad who left his 22-month-old baby in the car. There were lots of comments saying this man should not be punished. Some believed the death of his son was a punishment of its own. However, what appeared as an accident has taken a turn for the worst.
According to Fox News, 33-year-old Justin Ross Harris was charged with felony murder and cruelty to a child in the second-degree. Some may ask what he did to deserve this fate. The real question however, is what didn’t he do?
Recent reports have showed that this may have not been an accident. Police found incriminating evidence showing that this “accident” was planned. Police found out Harris had been sexting several woman earlier that day. Harris had also looked up websites advocating searches about being child free, how to survive in prison, and how long does it take for an animal to die in a car. Harris and his wife had also taken out two life insurance policies for the 22-month-old baby. Other evidence by police indicated that Mr. and Mrs. Harris were unhappy with their current lifestyle.
According to the Department of Earth and Climate Sciences from San Francisco State University, so far in 2014, there have been 17 confirmed U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in cars. In 2013, there were a total of 44 confirmed U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in cars. From 1998- present, there have been a total of 623 confirmed U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in cars. So what exactly is the government doing about this?
Some states are making an effort to avoid children being left alone in cars. Twenty out of the 50 states have laws addressing leaving children in unattended vehicles. In Texas, a person commits this crime if
a. A person intentionally or knowingly leaves a child in a motor vehicle for longer than five minutes, knowing the child is:
i. Younger than seven years of age;
ii. Not attended by an individual in the vehicle who is 14 years of age or older.
b. An offence under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
c. If the child is injured, the charge is then upgraded to child endangerment, which is a felony. The penalties range from six months to a year in jail, with a fine up to $10,000.
Medically speaking, what can happen to a child left alone in a heated vehicle? Well in Texas, the weather is so unpredictable. Unfortunately, nothing beats the Texas heat. When a child is left alone in a car with no air, their temperature begins to rise and they begin to suffer a heatstroke. According to the Department of Earth and Climate Sciences from San Francisco State University, “A person’s core temperature of 107 degrees F or greater can be lethal as cells are damaged and internal organs begin to shut down.” Since children are not as developed as adults, their body temperatures raise three to five times faster than adults.
Well the big question: How can we avoid this? According to ABC News, here are a few ways to avoid child deaths in hot cars.
- Never leave a child a child alone in the car, not even for a short amount of time.
- Put something of value such as a purse, briefcase, wallet, or phone in the back seat. This will encourage you to make sure you check the backseat before you lock up your car.
- Keep a child’s toy in the passengers seat so that way you are reminded that you have your child in the back seat.
- If you see a child alone in the car, get the child out immediately and call 911.
- Put a baby mirror in your car so you can see your child there through your rearview mirror.
Remember, leaving children in cars is 100 percent preventable. Follow these procedures and you are sure to avoid a tragic accident.
If you are seeking aggressive criminal representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney for your Denton County criminal case or arrest in Denton County, contact the offices of Tim Powers today. There is no charge or obligation for the initial consultation. 940.580.2899
*Tim Powers is an attorney licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any specific legal question you should directly consult an attorney. Criminal Defense Lawyers with Unparalleled Passion for Success Providing Quality Representation for your Denton, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Carrollton, Corinth, Highland Village Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Denton County, Tarrant County, Collin County, or Dallas County criminal case