HARTFORD, Conn.(WTNH)– It is against Connecticut law to leave young children unattended in a car at any time of the year and state law is even more specific about doing it in the hot weather.
“If a child is seen as just left in the car unattended, that is in effect a violation of the misdemeanor statutes. If the child suffers injury, obviously, that’s a felony violation under the ‘risk of injury to a child’ statute,” said State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney (D-New Haven).
In plain language that means; it’s against the law to leave any child under age 12 unattended in a car at any time.
The penalty can range from a few months to up to a year in prison and a fine.
If the windows are closed on a hot day it becomes a much more serious felony and the penalty can range up to ten
“You would think that something like that is so self evident that you wouldn’t need to specify it under the law but unfortunately we do,” said Sen. Looney.
If the incident is fatal, as in the Ridgefield case, Connecticut state law is even more specific.
If it is determined to be accidental that is not intentional it’s considered ‘manslaughter’ and the penalty can range up to 20 years.
If it is determined to be intentional it’s ‘murder with special circumstances’ and the penalty is life in prison without possibility of parole.
The co-chair of the legislature’s Committee on Children says they are looking to see if other states have more effective statutes.
State Senator Dante Bartolomeo (D-Meriden) says, “if, in fact, there are states with more strict penalties we want what data on what those penalties have done; has it achieved what we’re looking for? Has it decreased the rates and incidents?”
She adds that the research was already underway before these most recent cases.