At 5:15am on March 2, a passerby saw a 4-year-old girl walking alone in the vicinity of Frankie’s Donuts on Portage Road in Niagara Falls. The passerby, a regular customer at the 24-hour donut shop, notified the staff inside that the young girl was in the parking lot. She was brought inside and the police were called. Criminal defense attorney Barry Covert spoke to WGRZ about whether or not criminal charges may be pressed against the girl’s parents. The full story is available on the WGRZ website.
Endangering welfare requires knowledge
When police arrived on the scene, WGRZ reports that the little girl pointed to where she lives and was returned home to her mother. Mr. Covert told WGRZ that “if the child just woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning, the parents were sleeping, and the child snuck out, then there definitely would not be criminal charges.” He explained that, in order to be charged with endangering the welfare of a child, “you have to knowingly act in a way that could injure the child.”
Charges could still be filed
“I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if the police referred the matter to Child Protective Services to determine whether there should be some follow up to make sure that there wasn’t something that the parents did that was negligent,” Mr. Covert continued.
Mr. Covert explained that “if the parents were woken up by the police and then were surprised to learn that the child was gone and the parents did nothing wrong, then the officers have a lot of discretion to just leave the child in the parents’ hands.”
WGRZ reports that there is no incident report on the matter and it is still unclear if the girl’s parents will face charges.
About Barry N. Covert
Mr. Covert is a senior partner in Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area. He is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; driving while intoxicated; constitutional law, including First Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense. Mr. Covert frequently provides legal analysis for WGRZ and other media outlets.