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Can You Go to Jail for Leaving a Child Home Alone in New Jersey?

By Davis Law Firm | April 5, 2021

legality of leaving a child home alone

Two-parent working households can make it difficult to find childcare. Child care can be very expensive and may lead some parents to wonder if they are legally allowed to leave their child alone, and whether it will lead to jail time or not. Continue reading to learn more about the legality of leaving a child home alone and what you should do if you’re arrested for it in New Jersey.

Is It Legal to Leave a Child Home Alone in New Jersey?

It is legal to leave your child alone at home in New Jersey. There are no laws that prevent this, meaning you should not go to jail for doing so.

But, there are exceptions. It is illegal to leave your child home alone if it puts them in a dangerous situation. This might include leaving them without food, shelter, or other necessary needs, like heat or water. Additionally, leaving your child alone for a long period of time could be considered neglect. While there is no set period of time when it is considered neglect, it is usually not acceptable to leave your child alone for days.

Is Jail Time Possible If You Leave Your Child Home Alone?

It is unlikely but possible. While leaving your child alone for a few hours while you run to the store is unlikely to lead to jail time, if you fail to provide them with a safe environment, it could. Additionally, if you leave your child for a long period of time, even if you consider them to be in a safe environment, you may be charged with neglect.

The state considers abuse and neglect to be any action that puts the child in danger. This could include:

  • Neglect to provide your child with shelter
  • Neglect to provide your child with a clean, safe living environment
  • Neglect of access to education
  • Neglect to provide food and nourishment

If leaving your child home alone puts them in harm and prevents them from having access to things like food and shelter, it could be considered neglect. The definition is not always clear.

New Jersey Penalties for Child Neglect

Neglect does not always lead to jail time. But, it will alert the attention of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency office. They may open an investigation into your case. If the office determines neglect, then you may be charged. This could result in up to 18 months of jail time, as well as the potential to lose custody of your child. The child may be transferred to a family member’s home or to the state. You may have to go through the system to get custody of your child back.

Contact a Criminal Defense Today

Were you charged for leaving your child home alone? Some parents have few other options and as long as the child is safe and not neglected, it is not officially a crime in the state. Because the lines of what is considered neglect in comparison to what is acceptable are not always clear, this can lead to criminal charges and potential jail time. Contact a criminal defense lawyer today to evaluate the details of your case and determine your legal options.

Contact a Princeton Criminal Defense Attorney for a Consultation About Child Neglect Charges in New Jersey Today

Were you arrested or charged with endangering the welfare of a child in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at the Davis Law Firm, LLC have successfully represented clients in East Windsor, West Windsor, Trenton, Lawrence, and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 498-7722 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 2653 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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