Leaving a Child in a Vehicle in Texas – The Criminal Consequences
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Leaving a Child in a Vehicle in Texas – The Criminal Consequences

Posted On - September 10th, 2012 | By Tim Clancy | Category - Criminal Defense

The hot weather in Texas can pose risk of serious injury or death to a child left unattended in a motor vehicle. Accordingly, the Texas legislature enacted laws providing criminal penalties for such an act. If you have been arrested and charged with violating this statute, you want an experienced lawyer to protect your rights.

At The Law Office of Kevin Clancy & The Law Office of Tim Clancy, in Dallas, we have nearly 50 years of combined criminal law experience. Attorney Kevin Clancy is a former prosecutor who knows the strategies and tactics the state uses when investigating and prosecuting a criminal case. We will keep you fully informed and involved, advising you of all developments in your case, as well as your options. We will work closely with you to help you take the right steps to protect your future.

The Law Governing Leaving a Child in a Vehicle

In Texas, you can be charged with a criminal offense if you intentionally or knowingly leave a child in a motor vehicle (car, truck, van or other enclosed vehicle) for more than five minutes. The statute requires that you have knowledge that the child is less than seven years of age, and that you know that there is no one in the car over the age of 14 who can watch the child. See Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Section 10.

Because Section 10 requires intent, you can assert a defense that you acts were unintentional, reckless or simply negligent. You may argue that you reasonably believed the child was at least seven years of age, or that reasonably believed that the minor you left in charge was old enough to meet the requirements of the law.

Leaving a child unattended in a car is a Class C misdemeanor in Texas, with potential fines up to $500.

Leaving a child unattended in a car can also lead to separate charges of neglectful supervision. A charge of neglectful supervision simply means that you did not adequately supervise your child. This can include a variety of situations, including placing the child in a position where they do not have the level of mental or physical development to provide for their own safety. It can also involve knowingly placing them at risk of harmful sexual conduct.

Contact Our Office

For a confidential consultation with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us online at or call (214) 550-5771.

Attorney Kevin Clancy is AV-rated under Martindale-Hubbell’s peer review rating system.