Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When the State Oversteps Their Bounds

I was shocked by this story from Fox News.

Treffly Coyne was out of her car for just minutes and no more than 10 yards
away.But that was long and far enough to land her in court after a police
officer spotted her sleeping 2-year-old daughter alone in the vehicle; Coyne had
taken her two older daughters to pour $8.29 in coins into a Salvation Army

Minutes later, she was under arrest — the focus of both a police
investigation and a probe by the state's child welfare agency. Now the case that
has become an Internet flash point for people who either blast police for
overstepping their authority or Coyne for putting a child in danger.

Apparently, the weather was bad and she did not want to wake her sleeping daughter. She claims she locked her car (which was parked in loading zone near the door) and kept it in view the whole time while the kids donated their money.

I mean, WTH?! We've got parents throwing their kids off of overpasses, leaving them in roasting cars in the summer, or leaving them alone in a car that bursts into flames while they go shopping for an hour, and the State of Illinois is charging this lady? Gee, I'd better be careful or I might get ARRESTED for leaving my kids in a locked car for a FEW SECONDS while I run to get a shopping cart for them two spaces over in the PARKING LOT. What's next-- ARRESTING a mom because her 3 or 4-year-old ran away from her in the grocery store when she stopped to grab the Cheerios?!

In Texas there is a law for leaving a child in a vehicle (I got this from a Texas family law blog--

Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Section 10 LEAVING A CHILD IN A VEHICLE.
A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly leaves a child in a
motor vehicle for longer than five minutes, knowing that the child is: younger
than seven years of age; and not attended by an individual in the vehicle who is
14 years of age or older. An offense under this section is a Class C

In Illinois, the statue says, "any person who leaves a child six years of age or younger, unattended in a motor vehicle for more than ten minutes has committed a Class A misdemeanor." The statute further defines "unattended" as "either not accompanied by someone fourteen years or older, or if accompanied by someone older than fourteen years the child must be within sight of that person."

This seems a little more reasonable . I doubt the mom in the story was out of the car longer than 10 minutes, but she was standing close enough to the car that I don't think the child counts as unattended. The police officer should have used some common sense. I bet the peace officer in this story had nothing better to do then wait for this mom to walk over to the front of the store, and then swoop in and look like a hero. A warning would have been sufficient. Thanks for wasting valuable tax payer money and ruining the lives of this family! Get a life, you busybody nanny-staters and try focusing on actual child abusers!

Update: If the mom was away from the car for less than 10 minutes, then according to the statue she has violated no law. She should be exonerated. I understand why police officers might be strict about something like this due to the number of children injured or killed by being left in hot cars, but they should be familiar with the revelant statutes so cases like this don't happen.

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