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NY Penal Law § 260.00: Abandonment of a Child

July 4, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

The New York legislature has enacted a number of statutes designed to protect children. Criminal offenses that involve children are viewed as among the most serious crimes. One of these crimes is referred to as abandonment of a child.  You could be prosecuted under New York Penal Law § 260.00 for abandonment of a child if you are the caretaker of a minor child who is younger than 14 years old, and you leave the child with no intention of returning to pick them back up. A caretaker can be a parent, a guardian, or any person who has the legal responsibility for taking care of the child.

An Example

Bryant is a single father.  He has been parenting his 7 year old daughter on his own for a while. Taking care of his child has come to be rather overwhelming to him. One afternoon, he dropped off his daughter at the home of a trusted friend, letting the friend know that he would be back in 3 hours. Bryant never came back for his daughter. Bryant morethna likely could not be prosecuted on the charge of abandonment of a child. Even though he left his daughter with no intention of returning, he did leave her in a safe place with a person who was capable of caring for her.

Offenses that are Related

Endangering the welfare of a child: New York Penal Law § 260.10

Endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 260.24

Endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person, or an competent or physically disabled person in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 260.32

Possible Defenses

Under New York Penal Law § 260.00(2) you would have a solid defense against a child abandonment charge if you leave your child with the intention that the child will be safe and well cared for, or if you left the child with an appropriate, responsible adult. It would also be a defense if you left the child on their own, but you notified an appropriate person where the child is. An alternative defense would be if the child is younger than 30 days old.

The Sentence

Since it is a class E felony, if you are convicted of abandonment of a child, the judge could sentence you to a prison term of up to 4 years, a probation term of 5 years, and the payment of a fine.

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