Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

New York Child Neglect and Abandonment Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Being abused is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a child. That's why there are a number of laws enacted to protect children, who are some of the most vulnerable people in society. In addition to federal government mandates that require reporting systems, there are also a variety of state laws that address child neglect and child abandonment crimes.

In New York, child neglect falls within the larger category of child abuse laws. While child abuse typically refers to more active harm to a child, neglect refers to passive harm such as failing to provide basic necessities for a child including food, clothing, shelter, and health care such that the child's welfare is in jeopardy.

Child Abandonment in New York

Just like child abuse laws, child abandonment laws vary state by state. While neglect refers to a parent or caregiver's inactivity when it comes to children, the act of abandonment takes it one step further with the actual departure from a child's life. In New York, there are separate charges for child abandonment.

New York Child Neglect and Abandonment Laws

Although these issues deal with child-rearing which are domestic issues and fall under family law, child neglect and child abandonment are also areas that are criminalized and fall under the domain of New York's penal code.

The chart below provides a summary of state laws related to New York child neglect and child abandonment laws, including links to important code sections.

Statutes

Penalties and Sentencing

  • Abandonment of a child: This is a class E felony which means that a first time offender would face no minimum sentence, but could receive up to one and one-third to four years of prison time. Or they could receive probation or probation coupled with jail, community service, fines, and a conditional discharge.
  • Non-support of a child in the first degree: This is a class E felony charge which means that a first time offender would face no minimum sentence, but could receive up to one and one-third to four years of prison time. Or they could receive probation or probation coupled with jail, community service, fines, and a conditional discharge.
  • Non-support of a child in a second degree: This is a misdemeanor charge.

Possible
Defenses

  • Safe surrender
  • Cultural defense
  • Mistaken identity
  • Acting within your right to discipline your children

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources for Child Neglect and Abandonment Laws

Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Facing child neglect or child abandonment charges is a very serious matter. Depending on the situation, you could lose custody of your kids, your freedom, and your good reputation. With so much at stake, you should consider discussing your case with an experienced attorney to determine the best way forward. Get started now by finding a New York criminal defense attorney near you.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.