There are many ways to violate California law when it concerns young children, not the least of which is misdemeanor child endangerment. California Penal Code 273(a) states that the crime of child endangerment, in general, happens when any person allows or causes a child to suffer in any way (mentally or physically), to be injured in any way, or to be put in a situation that could be considered dangerous. The last of these is what 37-year-old (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) has been accused of having done. She allegedly left her 2 young children (ages 10 and 1) in her Honda in the parking garage of the Graton Casino in Rohnert Park. Officers were patrolling the parking structure when they spotted the children in the back seat of her car. The car was not running, but the keys were in the ignition and the vehicle was engaged. When law enforcement officials asked the 10-year-old girl where her mother was, she told them that her mom had gone into the nearby casino. Their mother was arrested after having spoken to the officers at the scene and their aunt took the children home.
The issue is that any number of things could have happened to these 2 children. They could have met with many different fates that night as they waited for their mother, including being kidnapped, being hit by a nearby vehicle, or falling off of the parking structure. Luckily, none of these things transpired. Violations of CA PC 273(a) could be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or as a felony (a ‘wobbler’).