What Constitutes Reckless Conduct?Written on August 20, 2014
Over the past several months, the news has been filled with cases of parents being arrested for neglecting or abusing their children. Some of these situations have had a higher profile than others. Sometimes it’s fairly obvious what has happened. If witnesses see a parent leave a child in a locked car while at the store, for example, the police have a clear reason to make an arrest. There are other instances when police or case workers need to make a judgment call.
There are a number of laws in the Georgia code that address abuse or neglect as it relates to children. It’s not always a black and white scenario. There are times when, in a matter of just seconds or minutes, something happens involving a child that can result in criminal charges. If charges do arise, a parent or guardian can also expect a visit from the Department of Family and Child Services. If this happens to you, the first thing you should do after your children are taken care of, is call the attorneys at The Silverbach Group.
Reckless Conduct can be a “catch-all” charge in Georgia if police believe a child has been put in danger. This may include leaving a young child (under nine years of age) home alone, or allowing a child to wander unsupervised out of the home. If a child is found unattended in a car, as recent history has shown, the adult responsible will most certainly face a Reckless Conduct charge.
There has been a rash of incidents in the Atlanta area lately involving parents leaving children locked in vehicles. There isn’t a specific law in Georgia that addresses this situation. That’s why the Reckless Conduct charge is usually the outcome. The statute reads: A person who causes bodily harm to or endangers the bodily safety of another person by consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his act or omission will cause harm or endanger the safety of the other person and the disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in the situation is guilty of a misdemeanor.
The charges get increasingly serious from there. If a child is found to be lacking proper shelter, nutrition or hygiene, the parent or guardian may be charged with a felony. If a child is “deprived sustenance to the extent that the child’s health or well being is jeopardized” a charge of Cruelty to Children in the First Degree would most likely be the result.
There are instances when a lesser charge would apply. Police and other authorities may pursue a deprivation or neglect case instead of the more serious Cruelty to Children charge. In addition to criminal charges, state DFACS workers also have the authority to remove children from the home and either place them with relatives, or in foster care.
You aren’t automatically guilty if you have been charged with a crime. You have the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If you are arrested, it’s critical to have experienced legal counsel on your side. The attorneys at The Silverbach Group have the experience to protect your rights. You can reach us at (770) 635-0334.