What is the penalty for leaving a child unattended in a car?

What is the penalty for leaving a child unattended in a car?


Yes, it is a crime to leave your child in the car unattended.

In NSW, Section 231 of the Children and Young (Care and Protection) Act 1998 states that:

A person who leaves any child or young person in the person’s care in a motor vehicle without proper supervision for such a period or in such circumstances that:

(a)   the child or young person becomes or is likely to become emotionally distressed, or

(b)  the child’s or young person’s health becomes or is likely to become permanently or temporarily impaired,

is guilty of an offence.

The maximum penalty for the offence is a $20,000 fine.


What happens if the child dies?


If the child passes away as a result of the parent or carer leaving a child unattended in a car, much more serious consequences arise.  More recently, in Melbourne Australia, a woman was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment (with a non-parole period of 9 months) for manslaughter arising out of her child dying in her car whilst unattended.

In that case, the mother was warned on several occasions not to leave her child in the car unattended, but unfortunately did it one too many times.

Police were told that she had found the child home alone three times. On many other occasions the child had been found in the car alone.

Recently, in the US, a mother left her 12 month old baby in her car in 34 degree heat, whilst she went into her house to go to the toilet. Investigations are still continuing, however it seems the mother will not be charged as police found that it was an accident.


As always, if you are charged with any criminal offence, it is very important that you contact a lawyer to get advice.


Call LY Lawyers for a free consultation in any of our Sydney offices on 1300 595 299