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ENDANGERING THE WELFARE OF A CHILD [PL § 260.10] – WHAT AGE CAN A CHILD BE LEFT HOME ALONE IN NEW YORK?

Leaving a young child home alone can and often does lead to a parent being charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child under the New York Penal Law. But at what is age is a child old and mature enough to be left home alone in New York? While some prosecutors choose to charge parents who leave young children (and even teenagers) home alone with Endangering the Welfare of a Child, the reality is, there is no set age in New York for a child to be left alone. The determination is based upon several factors including the age of the child, the maturity of the child and the length of time the child is left alone.
In fact, the City Court of Mt. Vernon has held that leaving a six-year-old child at home alone for one hour during the night, without more, is not criminal and does not support a charge of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. (See People v. Seward, 173 Misc. 2d 1020 (City Ct. Mt. Vernon 1997). The Seward decision cited Augustine v. Berger, 88 Misc. 2d 487 (1976), where the Suffolk County Supreme Court held that leaving a one and a two year old alone for a half hour at night did not amount to maltreatment under the Family Court Act. Similarly, the Kings County Criminal Court has held that leaving a five, seven, twelve and thirteen year old home alone without more supporting facts is insufficient to support a charge of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. People v. Smith, 178 Misc. 2d 350 (1998).
For more information about this, and other criminal law issues, please contact Tilem & Campbell toll-free at 1-877-377-8666 or visit the web at www.tilemandcampbell.com.