Parents have a duty to protect and care for their children. When a parent abdicates this duty, society imposes consequences via the legal system. Depending on the circumstances, the penalties for child abandonment can be severe. Child abandonment laws are legislated by the states, so Louisiana has its own set of laws and penalties.
Definition and Penalty
In Louisiana, criminal abandonment is defined as the intentional physical abandonment of a minor child by the child's parent or legal guardian. A "child" is defined as an individual under the age of ten. "Abandonment" is defined as leaving the child unattended and in a situation in which he has to take care of himself. To prove that the child was abandoned, there must be evidence that the parent did not attempt to secure alternate adult supervision for the child and that the parent did not intend to return.
If a parent or guardian abandons a child as defined by the state of Louisiana, she is subject to jail time of up to a year and a fine of up to $1,000.
Cruelty to Juveniles
Some forms of child abandonment can also be considered "cruelty to juveniles" in Louisiana. For example, if there is an intentional neglect of a child by an individual who is seventeen or older to a child who is seventeen or younger that causes pain or suffering to the child, the individual will be subject to harsher punishment. "Intentional neglect" is defined as leaving the child alone in a situation in which a reasonable person could have foreseen harm. For example, if a parent abandons his child in a dangerous area of the city, this will result in harsher penalties than abandoning the child in a safer environment.
Louisiana strictly punishes child desertion in their courts. The act of deserting a child incurs legal penalties. The difference between child desertion and child abandonment is that someone who deserts the child intends to return, whereas someone who abandons the child does not intend to return. Child desertion can result in jail time of up to six months and a fine of up to $500.