According to a report published by the Indiana Department of Child Services, 63,665 children were reported as victims of neglect in 2008. Fifty-nine percent of these claims were substantiated by further investigation. Neglect occurs when a dependent child is not afforded adequate care as mandated by state law. Parents and caregivers who are found to neglect a child are subject to criminal prosecution under Indiana law and, if convicted, face imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000.
Definition of Neglect
Indiana law identifies neglect as a crime in which the obligated caregiver fails to provide adequate support to a child. Support, as defined by Indiana Code, refers to basic needs such as food, water, sanitary surroundings and required medical care. Additionally, the definition of neglect encompasses failure to comply with educational requirements as set forth in IC 20-33-2. Abandonment and cruel confinement of a child is considered criminally neglectful, as is putting a child in a potentially dangerous situation. A person who is found to commit these acts will be charged with a class D felony punishable by imprisonment from six months to three years.
The charge of neglect is elevated to a class C felony when aggravating circumstances are present. Possession or delivery of schedule I or II controlled substances, including marijuana, heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine, increases the charge to a class C felony. Neglect that results in physical injury, confinement of a child in an area that is not fit for human habitation and use of handcuffs, rope or tape as a means of restraint constitutes a class C felony under Indiana law. Conviction carries a prison sentence of two to eight years.
Serious Injury or Death
Neglect of a child which results in severe physical injury is a class B felony. According to Indiana Code, an offender convicted of a class B felony faces imprisonment for six to 20 years. The charge is a class A felony when neglect is the cause of death of a child under the age of 14 years and the offender is at least 18 years of age. Conviction of a class A felony is punishable by 20 to 30 years imprisonment.
A person with at least two prior felony convictions unrelated to the current neglect charge may be considered by the court as a habitual offender and sentenced accordingly. The sentence of an offender termed as habitual may not be less than the advisory sentence and must not exceed three times the advisory sentence as stated in IC 35-50-2. The maximum additional penalty for a habitual offender is 30 years imprisonment.