As your children get older, you might want to let them stay home alone, which can provide you with more time and freedom to do what you need to while saving on childcare costs. However, many parents are under scrutiny for leaving a child home when they are too young, and some parents might face serious trouble with the law for doing so. The question arises - how young is too young to leave your child at home alone in Tennessee?
No Set Age in Tennessee
While you might imagine that the law sets a specific age, only three states have a specific age threshold set out in the law, and Tennessee is not one of them. However, the courts in our state have provided guidance for parents that, generally speaking, no child under ten years old should be left at home while unsupervised. If you are found leaving your eight or nine-year-old home, you could face some complications with law enforcement.
For children ten and older, parents should make the decision based on the specific child's maturity and responsibility level. Some factors to consider include:
- Does your child make mature and safe decisions?
- Is your house free from hazards and risks of injuries?
- Does your child know how to react in an emergency situation?
- Can your child easily reach you or a trusted adult when needed?
Parents should take care in evaluating whether a child of a certain age is willing and able to properly care for themselves without supervision.
Child Abuse and Neglect Allegations
Even if your young child does not suffer injuries while home alone, you can still face criminal accusations if authorities believe you made the wrong decision. Some criminal charges that might result include:
- Child neglect - Knowingly acting in a way that puts your child's health and welfare at risk
- Child abuse - Knowingly acting in a way that inflicts injury to your child
Law enforcement might allege that not providing supervision for your child put their health and welfare at risk, which can lead to child neglect charges. If your young child sustains injuries while home alone, you could face child abuse charges.
These offenses can be charged as Class A misdemeanors, and if you are convicted, you can face probation, fines up to $2,500, and even one year in jail. If a very young child - younger than eight - sustained injuries, you can face felony charges.
Criminal child neglect or abuse convictions can also cause the state to investigate your parenting abilities and potentially terminate your parenting rights. It is imperative to aggressively defend against criminal allegations.
Speak with a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer
The experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense team at Taylor Law Group is ready to help. We help our clients defend against all types of criminal charges, so please do not wait to contact us online or call 615-890-1982 for a consultation.