This comes to us from Heather Hypes, a mom in Michigan, who had one of those days. We’ve all had them. The kids are tired, the line takes forever, the credit card is doing something funky… For most of modern history, this was cause for a beer or candy bar when we got home.
But Heather and her husband are facing something far bigger: A possible six months in jail and $2000 in fines — not to mention lawyers’ fees — thanks to authorities convinced that children are in mortal peril any time their parents aren’t perfect.
No one is suggesting that very young children should routinely be left for 27 minutes in the car, alone, which is what ended up happening on the terrible, very bad, no good day Heather describes. But as the New ezaertriay
Jersey Supreme Court itself declared, unanimously, simply leaving a child in a car does not constitute abuse or neglect. Those crimes are evidenced by a pattern of harm to children, not by one errand gone kerflooey. How can it possibly make Heather and her husband BETTER parents by putting them in jail, or siphoning off $2000 family dollars? Isn’t that way, way worse than the “crime?” You decide:
Dear Free-Range Kids: Hi my name is Heather and I am a proud mother of two beautiful children, a 3 yr old daughter (will be 4 in Feb.) and a 7 month old son. This nightmare started when my husband and I were on our way to work (we clean out abandon homes) and our daughter kept asking for something to drink. We decided to stop at Walmart, since there were a couple other things we had to grab anyways, and when we arrived our son was sleeping and our daughter was playing games on my phone..My husband was just going to run in but I decided to run in with him so we could do it faster. After grabbing the few things we needed and heading to the check outs we realized we forgot to get our daughters juice. I headed to the back of the store to grab her juice while he went to get a snack because we knew our daughter would want something to eat as well..When we got to the self scans we went to different machines so it would be faster because half of the items could be covered with our bridge card and some couldn’t. He was having trouble with his transaction ( bridge card ), I went over to his machine once I was done with mine to help him and we ended up having to void the order and re-scan it. So, in a nutshell, a 5 min. run in turned into a 27 min run in..When we returned to our truck there were two Walmart employees standing next to it saying that the police were on their way and continued being very rude saying it is illegal to leave children in the vehicle unattended. It was around 50 degrees , overcast, and raining. We left a window cracked and the truck locked..I am only 24 yrs old and have never been in trouble for anything and didn’t honestly even know that it was illegal. My mother use to do it with my siblings and I, so I just thought it was a judgement call on the parents part as long as you didn’t leave them in there for hours or in extreme heat or in any dangerous environment. Where the Walmart is located is in a small, I guess you can call it a city, in northern Michigan. Not a bad neighborhood at all!.The cop told me that I would be hearing from CPS and that he was going to submit the case to a prosecutor. I was personally more worried about CPS then anything. I instantly thought they were going to try and take my kids away and I was freaking out. My kids are my everything!!!!! I wasn’t suppose to be able to have kids and I had two perfect miracle babies!.The man from CPS showed up a few days after that and was extremely nice said. He had no worries ( even though my house was a mess with laundry baskets everywhere ) and that all they had to do was meet my husband and they would most likely drop the case. Then about a week later my husband and I had warrants for our arrest for two counts each of 4th degree child abuse..I couldn’t believe it I immediately called CPS to see if they had found something they thought was putting our kids in danger or if they had anything to do with it. They told me they didn’t and that they were shocked that it even became a charge. We are looking at $1000 in fines and/or 6 months in jail each. I don’t know what to do. I am TERRIFIED of losing my babies and we just started our own business and not making much money and we can’t afford a lawyer let alone $2000 in fines. Our arraignment is on Jan. 14th and I am so embarrassed and lost on what to say!.Please if you have any advice or anything, let me know!