Free-Range Kids

Mom Leaves 12-Year-Old in Car, Is Arrested, Can Only See Son on Supervised Visits

Maybe the cops could have just told her not to do it again?

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Cars
Dreamstime

A mom in Albuquerque let her 12-year-old son and their dog wait in the car, sun roof open, while she hit the gym for half an hour. The gym manager called the cops to report a "child" and dog locked in the car, and the police came zooming. 

The fact that the "child" is 12 didn't matter to the cops. The fact that he told them he normally reads or naps during these waits doesn't seem to have mattered either.

The cops took the mom to jail, where she was kept for two days, KOB reports:

Court documents say the boy's mother told the manager she had left her son in the car before and she didn't appear to be worried about it. But she's now in trouble with the law. 

The mom, 33-year-old Lucila Gonzalez, appeared before a judge on the charge Wednesday. The judge allowed her to be around her son as long as the boy's father is also there, then allowed her to be released on bond.

Got that? She can only visit the "victim"—her son—as long as her husband is present.

It's true that the mom was driving with a suspended license, and that's bad. But the cops didn't know that when they raced over to arrest her. Her crime was trusting her 12-year-old to handle himself for 30 minutes.

The mom also erred in deciding to lock the kid in the car. He couldn't immediately open the door when the cops showed up. This was unwise, even though the sun roof was open.

All in all, this sounds like a case where, if the cops had to intervene at all, they could tell her not to lock her son in the car. And they could also reprimand or charge her for driving with a suspended license. But that was not the crime they charged her with. The local report said she "faces a felony child abuse charge for leaving her 12-year-old son inside her car while she worked out at the gym."

Frankly, if you have a mom whose license is suspended, do you think you're safer when she's driving or when the car is parked?

The problem is that we have become so convinced that anytime a person under the age of 100 is alone in a parked car they are immediately going to die. So strangers call the cops and they arrest normal, non-abusive, non-negligent parents.

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  1. It’s true that the mom was driving with a suspended license, and that’s bad.

    Incomplete records haunt me so.

    1. I think things like the suspended license makes the cops feel like they have the obligation to pile on the charges.

      Not that I agree with any of it.

      1. Yep, it’s like sharks in a feeding frenzy.

        1. When I was in college in CO, I still had Texas as my home address, Texas license, Texas plates, registration, etc. I got pulled over one night and the pig informed me that my license had been suspended by Colorado for a speed camera ticket I hadn’t known about a couple years earlier and the state of Texas hadn’t been informed of the suspension. So he impounded my car, arrested me, took my license and gave me a ticket for driving without a license. I went to the impound the next day to get my car, but they wouldn’t accept my college ID, so I had to get a notary to sign an authorization for my roommate to pick it up, pay $300 to get it, get a replacement license from Texas (I reported it stolen by the state of Colorado, so they waived the replacement fee), show up to court, plead not guilty, show the judge the letter from Texas saying my license had never been suspended since I got it at 16, pay the old ticket and still do community service for some reason (the system is extremely fucked up, get a lawyer for anything beyond a parking ticket). All in all, cost me about 30 hours of my time plus 16 for community service and $600 in fees for something for which I was not found guilty. Because a cop saw that I supposedly had a suspended license. Never did tell me why he pulled me over in the first place.

        2. When I was in college in CO, I still had Texas as my home address, Texas license, Texas plates, registration, etc. I got pulled over one night and the pig informed me that my license had been suspended by Colorado for a speed camera ticket I hadn’t known about a couple years earlier and the state of Texas hadn’t been informed of the suspension. So he impounded my car, arrested me, took my license and gave me a ticket for driving without a license. I went to the impound the next day to get my car, but they wouldn’t accept my college ID, so I had to get a notary to sign an authorization for my roommate to pick it up, pay $300 to get it, get a replacement license from Texas (I reported it stolen by the state of Colorado, so they waived the replacement fee), show up to court, plead not guilty, show the judge the letter from Texas saying my license had never been suspended since I got it at 16, pay the old ticket and still do community service for some reason (the system is extremely fucked up, get a lawyer for anything beyond a parking ticket). All in all, cost me about 30 hours of my time plus 16 for community service and $600 in fees for something for which I was not found guilty. Because a cop saw that I supposedly had a suspended license. Never did tell me why he pulled me over in the first place.

        3. When I was in college in CO, I still had Texas as my home address, Texas license, Texas plates, registration, etc. I got pulled over one night and the pig informed me that my license had been suspended by Colorado for a speed camera ticket I hadn’t known about a couple years earlier and the state of Texas hadn’t been informed of the suspension. So he impounded my car, arrested me, took my license and gave me a ticket for driving without a license. I went to the impound the next day to get my car, but they wouldn’t accept my college ID, so I had to get a notary to sign an authorization for my roommate to pick it up, pay $300 to get it, get a replacement license from Texas (I reported it stolen by the state of Colorado, so they waived the replacement fee), show up to court, plead not guilty, show the judge the letter from Texas saying my license had never been suspended since I got it at 16, pay the old ticket and still do community service for some reason (the system is extremely fucked up, get a lawyer for anything beyond a parking ticket). All in all, cost me about 30 hours of my time plus 16 for community service and $600 in fees for something for which I was not found guilty. Because a cop saw that I supposedly had a suspended license. Never did tell me why he pulled me over in the first place.

          1. The squirrels really wanted this story to be heard.

      2. Yeah, that probably has a lot to do with it.

        Still, fuck the police.

  2. Albuquerque, huh? Mom is lucky the cops didn’t just execute her.

    1. Or the kid for not complying with their order to open the door.

  3. From the linked article:

    “But court documents say when deputies asked her son to open the car doors to talk to them that he couldn’t. His mom had to go back inside the gym to get her keys.”

    They actually expect anyone to believe this horseshit? A 12 year old can’t unlock a car door from the interior? Seriously? My daughter picked up that complex skill when she was about 3 years old.

    1. I mean, there are child locks and so forth, but unless it was a retired police cruiser a 12-year-old should be more than capable of clamoring into the front passenger seat and opening that door. Or the driver’s. Unless it was more like, “I can’t because my mom told me not to open the door to strangers.” Which would be ironic as hell.

    2. Holy crap so did mine…we were touring the countryside in the Cotswolds and next thing I know the damn back door is open. I flip out, wife flips out, kid thinks this is fun. Screech to halt, click the little child switch on the inside of door, get back in…proceed to nearest pub.

  4. I believe if you’re old enough to be slammed into a concrete ground and knocked unconscious by the police and society finds it justifiable, then you’re old enough to sit in a car, surely.

    1. I’m still buzzing from the comments of people who SUPPORTED the cop.

      Bunch of fucking retards.

      1. For real.

        Here’s how Officer Friendly can handle the situation:

        “Hey, kid, you ok? Is your mom or dad around?”
        “Yeah, she’s in the gym, she’ll be back in a few minutes.”
        “Ok, well, let me know if you need anything.”

        I was shaving and having sex–not at the same time–when I was 12. I spent most of my free time without anything like adult supervision, which was handy, because having your dad hovering around makes it real difficult to shoplift cigarettes from the 7-11 or spray public toilet seats with pepper spray. Which is to say that, at 12, I believe most kids can probably survive without adult supervision.

        1. In the not too distant past, that was the sort of age where you would have to take on real adult responsibilities. Now, I think it’s good that kids have time to dick around and go to school and stuff now. But 12 year olds are certainly generally capable of dealing with most things if they have to.

        2. Maybe they were worried that the kid was going to fat-shame people outside the gym.
          That 12 year old was making the fat people feel unsafe.
          He might have had some chalk on him.

        3. At age 12, a lot of my friends knew how to frickin’ drive.

          At age 14, some of them had actual “hardship” driver’s licenses.

          I keep expecting to hear about somebody who’s life was wrecked like this just saying “Fuck it” and gunning down their tormentors.

          They took her kids. Took. Her. Kids. Because a 12 year old was left in a car, in absolutely no danger whatsoever.

          If I’m on the jury for whoever goes postal after something like this, I’ll probably vote to acquit.

  5. I just RTFA and it looks like the city ordnance is that any kid over 11 can be left on their own. It looks like she was breaking any city laws at any rate. Besides good ol’ paragraph 67 clause 4b, a.k.a. FYTW, I can’t see why she’d be charged with felony abuse based on what was reported.

    Frankly I’d be more concerned about the dog.

    1. Why? The dog was with the kid. Or do you think the kid is going to kill the dog?

      1. So, the cops did NOT shoot the dog?

        This must be a feel good story, then. Or they need more training, whichever.

      2. I think he means more concerned about laws pertaining to the dog.

      3. I have no idea what Albequerque is like in April, but I envision oven-like heat. The kid can sweat, but dog’s don’t fare well in cars, even with the sunroof open. Just walking by, you don’t know how long the dog’s been in there. Still, with the kid in the car I’d assume if he starts getting too hot he’d have the wherewithal to go grab him some water or something. Then again, if he can’t even open the door, maybe he’s not what you’d call up to speed.

        1. Oh, well, per comments below it looks like Albequerque is pretty much idyllic this time of year, so yeah, dog’s fine.

          1. Albuquerque and idyllic should never appear in the same sentence unless the word “not” is somewhere between them.

            1. Albuquerque can be pretty charming after a couple shots of tequila in April or May or late August.

            2. You Texans, I swear. Albuquerque has one of the best climates on the whole frickin’ planet, as far as I’m concerned. Its elevation is on par with Denver – even in the summer, its not that hot.

  6. The problem is that we have become so convinced that anytime a person under the age of 100 is alone in a parked car they are immediately going to die.

    I’d be worried about anyone over the age of 100. The doors on my car take a bit of force to open at times.

  7. Temperatures here at around 6:00 were in the low 70s. Yeah, deadly.

    This was unwise, even though the sun roof was open.

    Quit giving critics their inch, Lenore. A twelve-year-old is more than capable of unlocking a car door. That aside, we’re finding niggling little details to indict a woman who is well within her rights to accommodate her child as she sees fit. This is a pet peeve of mine: we accept it on faith that the state has an interest in imposing itself on parents who stray centimeters out of the acceptable parenting paradigm, and then go about fabricating a case against the poor slobs who get caught up in these witchhunts. Here’s what is actually happening: parents love to see other parents punished. There’s something heady about having one’s own virtues and customs validated by denigrating those of others. That’s all this is, bloody-minded vindictiveness. No, this woman is not “unwise,” she’s guilty of nothing, she’s not obligated to explain anything to anyone and nobody has the right to demand it of her. The default response to stories like this should be: “Mind your own goddamn business.”

    1. Does the state or the community have an interest in stepping in for egregious cases of abuse or neglect? Absolutely! But these bullshit concern trolling examples of altruistic punishment not only fail to rise to that level but hamper efforts to root out real problems.

      1. If there was no harm done, how can it be called abuse or neglect?

      2. Yeah, egregious cases of abuse when the minor in question is in seventh damn grade involve being locked in a basement for extended periods of time, genuine physical abuse (not just getting smacked for being a smartass), that sort of thing. If being left in a car by yourself for 30 minutes constitutes felony abuse then what in the name of god would you get for leaving your kid alone in a room with a lamp and a mattress for 8 or more hours a night?

  8. This sounds silly, but can you explain to me why none of these people operate completely within the law? They always have something else that takes away from the general public’s sympathy. It’s always a drug conviction, a suspended license, prior jail time or something else that makes a majority of people shake their head and say “sounds like a typical lowlife dumbass”.

    Seriously, I feel bad for these people, usually, but nothing is going to change until more sympathetic victims are reported on with some regularity.

      1. Perhaps that’s it, but there’s an overwhelming majority of people out there that don’t have criminal records or suspended licenses or other shit that makes them look shady to the general public. I’m just lamenting, and wondering, why it seems like its. Ever, ever those people that we hear about in these stories.

        1. uhh self selected sample Sloop. The DA don’t charge and arrest good two shoes whitey.

          1. This is precisely the point. If you have an attorney on speed dial, more than likely they tell you to have a nice day. If you look like there might be some “shake” on that floorboard…. well, we gotta fill our quota somewhere.

    1. They also probably look low class or trashy. I’m sure this stuff doesn’t usually affect the upper middle-class housewife driving a Toyota Highlander.

      1. Great, now I have an image of a Toyota Highlander seeing another SUV, blaring “There can be only one” from the radio and ramming it off the road.

        1. That pussy little Highlander will have trouble with my old 4wd Suburban.

          1. Well, I caught my FJ Cruiser having its way with a Highlander in the parking lot.

            I was pissed. First cousins, hello? I locked it in the garage for a night to teach it a lesson.

    2. I’m guessing the media aren’t interested in reporting the surely-innumerable sympathetic cases.

    3. Frankly, and I hate to go down this road because white folks get it amply up the ass too, but I would guess a few things happened here. The South Valley is a seedier part of town. It’s more reputation than reality, but it’s certainly poorer and strongly Hispanic. I don’t know that race factored into this, but I’m certain cops there are less sympathetic than they would be, say, in the northeast heights. In addition, I’m willing to bet this woman flipped out, quite rightly. A white woman flipping out and threatening to call a lawyer has a certain amount of leverage; a poor Hispanic woman isn’t going to have that pull or confidence.

      1. But that doesn’t explain the idiot from last week that was making her kids walk 3.5 miles following her car…that she was driving on a suspect dead license. Or her husband that showed up with drug paraphanelia in his car and a criminal record to go with it.

        Where are the soccer moms this is happening to? Where are the doctors who leave their kid in the car while they run into Whole Foods? Where are the accountants, engineers or lawyers that are doing the same things as these people that have baggage attached to them that makes them unsympathetic to the majority of people necessary to overturn stupid laws like these?

        That’s all I’m saying.

        1. Daddy was a doctor, & ISTR one time he was pulled over while his license had expired.

    4. My last driving license expired in 2010 & I haven’t seen fit to renew it because I can’t afford a car, but I could easily see myself some time being asked to drive under some circumstance & forgetting I had no license until I was already on the road. You have a license for many years, it just becomes a thing you don’t think about.

  9. Skenazy is the new Balko. “Ouch, my nuts.”

    1. Reason articles resemble that scene in Casino Royale. Yet I just sit here in cry-laughing hysteria saying, “Please sir, can I have another? The left testis hasn’t fully ruptured yet!”

  10. Frankly, if you have a mom whose license is suspended, do you think you’re safer when she’s driving or when the car is parked?

    Example of the nannyism which perpetuates the very thing against which we rail.

    1. I would have to ask “on what grounds was the licence suspended?” because licences get yanked for bullshit reasons unrelated to driving safety these days.

      1. Also a valid point. I got nailed for driving on a suspended license while taking a whole car load of coworkers to lunch. I had no idea it was suspended.

        It turned out that a county clerk in another state had misapplied a speeding ticket payment from 4 years earlier and they had issued a license suspension which had taken 2+ years to make it through the system to my state, which then took a couple years to catch up with me.

        So I did nothing wrong, but it certainly caused a lot of consternation and cost me quite a bit of time resolving it. I eventually hired a local attorney to resolve things with the court – and magically the records got cleaned up. Which only confirmed my suspicion that the whole thing was just a coordinated shakedown of out-of-state drivers in a Podunk town.

    2. Agreed, but that should be taken as a humorous aside, Ham, not as a principled and reasoned argument. And I’d venture to guess that her license suspension has nothing to do with unsafe operation of a vehicle.

  11. 12

    Hunting age in PA. I was walking around with loaded guns.

    We live in a police state.

    1. I wouldn’t even call it a police state. We simply have no sense of community. We’re scornful, vindictive creatures, and we’ve lost all sense of proportionality and justice because our neighbors are strangers. Seeing another parent busted even on trumped-up charges satisfies some atavistic tribal urge that used to be directed outward at other tribes; now that we have no tribe, we’re content with picking off our own villagers. We needn’t even get our own hands dirty to do it, because we can dispatch enforcers who are themselves strangers and view their villagers as strangers. It’s a cretinous, witless, cannibalistic existence.

      1. +1

        Now I need a drink.

    2. My old man used to tell tales of them taking their rifles to school and standing them in the corner so they could hunt right after.

  12. Excellent article on free-range child rearing in Germany

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/how -my-son-became-a-free-range -german-child-1459916120
    (You’ll need to take the spaces out…. PITA filter!)

    Bottom line: American society need to relax and let kids be kids

    1. You know who thought it was better to round up German kids and put them in organized programs?

      1. Lord Baden Powell?

      2. Simon Cowell?

  13. The essence of tyranny is not iron law. It is capricious law. – Christopher Hitchens

  14. Her entire defense should consist of:

    Would leaving the boy and dog at home have been legal? Where they had no supervision whatsoever and probably had access to dangerous chemicals and tools? Because the state is ok with 12 year olds being at home alone.

    1. The answer in RI may soon be “no”.

    2. This is why you think it through….the obvious response to that is don’t go work out until you can find something to do with your kid.

      Not that I agree with that. I’m with Lenore. But it’s an obvious response.

  15. What’s interesting about these cases is how many different points of failure there are, and how many opportunities there are to correct the failure, yet are completely ignored.

  16. When I was 12 years old, during the summers in San Antonio, I would go with my dad on service calls in the morning until the skatepark opened. Sometimes, he would just go to the shop to do paperwork and would leave me in the truck while I was sleeping. By late morning, the truck was pretty damn hot. So what did I do? I woke up, got out of the truck, and went into the air conditioned office. AND NOTHING ELSE HAPPENED.

    1. Long before I was 12 we used to ride our bikes a couple of miles to the nearest convenience store to buy sodas and snacks. Probably starting around 8 years old. We also would ride our bikes down to the marina at the local lake and fish off the docks. All completely unsupervised. Not for 30 minutes, but for a whole Saturday…. probably as much as 10 hours.

      This was normal suburban life. Nobody would have thought anything of it. Our parents knew where we were heading, but nobody saw the need to helicopter an 8 year old, let alone a junior high school kid.

  17. Are you single tonight? A lot of beautiful girls waiting for you to http://goo.gl/X6JhyG

  18. If she was in the gym, she probably wasn’t driving with the suspended license.

  19. Doesn’t the gym have a daycare? Ours does, and it’s really cheap. You can drop the kid off for like 2.5 hours for $5.
    They also have a child-care pass for $15 a month.

    Maybe this woman is just cheap.

    1. Nothing wrong with being cheap refusing to pay for unnecessary services. And how many 12 year-olds do you see in your gym’s daycare? I can guarantee you that there was no way I would have been in there at 12. There’s also no way my mother would have thought to drag me along so I could sit in a parked car.

      1. It makes me wonder why she didn’t leave the kid home.

        1. There could be any number of reasons. Perhaps that were doing something before or after the gym that involved him. Maybe the kid would rather read in the car than the house. Regardless, it doesn’t matter. In any sane world there is no reason that a parent should have to worry about the legality of leaving a 12 year old in a car.

    2. Day care for a 12 YO?! A place to sit him down where he tries to read while he gets shat & vomited on by 2 YOs who jump into his lap?

      1. Yeah, he’s probably in the car because the dog is in the car. Can’t bring the mutt in. No idea why the dog had to be there though.

        1. Some folks like to drive their dogs around with them.

  20. skipping comments, because I don’t have a taste for them tonight. How many time have low level hitlers fucked us? and I don’t want to read them all.

    Experied tags, licenses, not paid traffic violations, minor infractions, should not jail you. I did mine too for the record. Nor should leaving a 12 yo in a car in 2016. They all have ppads and cell phnes to call mommy and daddy. Hell they know enough now to call children s services. Mine threatened. I told them go for it. See what you get the xmas. lalala

    Law and order my ass.

    1. When we were kids in the 70’s they’d have PSA’s on TV that talked about the child abuse hotline. Starting around 5 years old my little brother used to threaten to call. My mom would just hand him the phone and say “have at it”. I wouldn’t dare try that gambit with my kids today.

      He’d also threaten to run away, sometimes dragging out a big suitcase. She’d tell him that we’d miss him and don’t forget to write, and help him out the front door. Really hilarious watching a 5 year old kid drag a (empty) suitcase that was twice his size down the street. Probably get child protective services called on you these days.

      1. my step-mum just bought a new cream Toyota Highlander only from working off a pc… browse around this website

        ??????www.paypost50.com

  21. It’s true that the mom was driving with a suspended license, and that’s bad.

    No, it’s not, necessarily. Lots of license suspensions are simply government blackmail for non-dangerous offenses. Many people are left with no alternative but to drive under suspension in order to reasonably continue living their lives.

    The mom also erred in deciding to lock the kid in the car. He couldn’t immediately open the door when the cops showed up. This was unwise, even though the sun roof was open.

    No, it wasn’t unwise. This is sheer bullshit.

  22. All in all, this sounds like a case where, if the cops had to intervene at all, they could tell her not to lock her son in the car.

    Seriously? If the pigs hadn’t complained about her locking her son in the car, they would have complained about her *not* locking the car and leaving her son vulnerable to abduction, by the army of predators that lurks in ever parking lot.

    There was no “right” course of action, because she did nothing wrong.

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