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?



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.