It seems that with rising summer temperatures, tragic stories of toddlers and young children being left in the car on a hot day have become commonplace. In the latest case, Halton Regional Police have confirmed that a two-year-old has died in Milton, Ontario after he was left in the car for an extended period of time. He was in the care of his grandmother at the time.
Mr. Prutschi was an expert guest on John Moore on CFRB to discuss the criminal ramifications to the recent spate of children left in hot cars. Mr. Prutschi starts off by saying that there can potentially be a number of overlapping criminal offences in such cases. The first priority in such a proceeding would be to determine what the intention and thought process of the person-in-question was and whether they serve as grounds for criminal charge(s), Mr. Prutschi asserted.
As far as potential charges are concerned, there can be a number of them. Mr. Prutschi expressed that, at minimum, charges of child abandonment would most likely be laid, where a parent/ guardian relinquishes responsibility for a child under the age of 10. A slew of other charges could include criminal negligence causing death, failure to provide the necessities of life to a child in your care and manslaughter. In a criminal proceeding, Mr. Prutschi affirmed that the onus is on the police and prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the child being abandoned in a hot car was deliberate and was done with criminal intent. To gauge the criminal aspects of a case, Mr. Prutschi distinguishes bad parenting from evil parenting, whereby the latter would be highlighted in a serious criminal charge case.
While Mr. Prutschi understands that there are intensified calls for swift punishment and these types of cases merit public outcry, from a criminal law perspective however, criminal intent needs to be established beyond a reasonable doubt and that can be an uphill battle.