Leave Child Without Supervision or Care

Leave Child Without Supervision or Care is found in section 494 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 in Victoria. It is a criminal offence that is committed by a person who was responsible for a child and who left the child unattended for a time that is considered longer than reasonable, without making appropriate arrangements for the child’s supervision and care.

Have you been accused of Leave Child Without Supervision or Care?

Police Interview
It is likely that the Police have gathered significant evidence if they are asking you to come in for an interview for charges such as this. If you believe that a Police interview is simply a chance to tell your side of the story, you are wrong. The interview process is designed to find out information from you that can be used against you in Court. Officers are highly trained in interrogation and know how to get information out of you that can help their case against you. Call our lawyers for advice before going to a Police interview so we can help you understand the process and help you understand what you should or should not say to Police.

Pleading Not Guilty
If you want to contest a charge for leaving a child without supervision you should call one of our lawyers today for advice. We can help you decide whether you are likely to mount a successful defence against the charges. If it is in your interests to contest the matter, we can help deal with the police, negotiate the charges on your behalf or even lobby for the charges to be withdrawn if that is appropriate. Contests are complicated matters and you need an expert lawyer to review the evidence and help you fight the charges effectively.

Pleading Guilty
Our lawyers are effective plea makers and often get excellent results at sentencing for our clients. We will help you gather character references, direct you to courses that relate to parenting and possibly obtain psychological material that might explain to the Court why you committed the offending. We understand that everyone has a bad day at some point and the criminal justice system often meets a person on their worst day. Our lawyers can help you through the Court with kindness, compassion and expertise.

Sentencing
Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts of VictoriaSentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Leave Child Without Supervision or Care in the Magistrates' Courts
Which court will the case be heard in?
As a summary offence, any summons for this charge will primarily be handled by the Magistrates’ Court.

What is the legal definition of Leave Child Without Supervision or Care?
  1. A person who has the control or charge of a child must not leave the child without making reasonable provision for the child’s supervision and care for a time which is unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances of the case.Penalty: 25 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months or both.
  2. Proceedings for an offence under subsection (1)
    1. must not be brought against a person who is under 16 years of age and is not the parent of the child; and
    2. may only be brought by a person after consultation with the Secretary.1
Examples
  • A person moves their car from the petrol bowser to a nearby parking spot before going into the store to pay. They have left their child in the backseat of their car. While they’re in the petrol station they bump into a friend and decide to go a nearby bar for a catch-up. The child is left in the car alone for over an extended period.
  • Person leaves their 3, 5 and 8-year-old children at home while they go to the local shopping centre. They take at least thirty minutes. During that the 3 year old child has exited the house and is found wondering in the street.
  • A 12-year-old is required to complete a 35 minute walk home after sporting practice without supervision at 7:30pm in the evening.
Elements of the offence
This Prosecution must prove:

  • The accused had the control or was in charge of the child;
  • The child was left unattended without reasonable provision made for the child’s supervision or care; and
  • The child was left unattended for a time which is unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances of the matter.
Legislation
This offence is governed by section 494(1) of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

Defences
Defences that can be run in response to this charge include honest and reasonable mistake of belief, necessity, lack of intent, sudden or extraordinary emergency, incorrect factual matrix and the concept of beyond reasonable doubt.

It is often the case that people want to plead guilty to charges but explain to the Magistrate why it happened. If you intend to plead guilty then you should discuss this with your lawyer. Organising your material and presenting your case well in Court will have a substantial impact on the outcome in your case.

Questions in cases like this
  • Was the lack of supervision necessary or reasonable given the context?
  • Was there in fact adequate supervision and how?
  • What age is reasonable for a child to be given certain levels of independence?
Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge
The offence of Leave Child Without Supervision or Care (s494 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005) carries a fine of 25 penalty units (at the time of publication that amount is equal to $4019.75) or six months imprisonment as the highest possible sentence.

This is a serious charge that can carry significant penalties if an accused is proven guilty. Speak with a lawyer immediately after receiving a summons for this offence. It is crucial that you have a lawyer evaluate your case before deciding whether to contest or enter a plea of guilty to any criminal allegation of this nature.

Other important resources

[1] Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (VIC) s 494