Can You Guess What This Person Was Charged With?

susan-l-terrillionSusan L. Terrillion, 55, found herself under arrest in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware after she left her two children unattended for 45 minutes as she ran down the street to retrieve some take out food. She is now facing two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Terrillion, a Maryland resident, left her 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter alone at their Delaware vacation rental on Tuesday, August 16, 2016. After leaving, the family dog broke away into the street and a driver helped control the dog and learned that they were alone. The driver called police and then Terrillion returned.

First and foremost, I think it is remarkably stupid to leave to your children alone, particularly at a beach house at the height of vacation season with thousands of transient people and vacationers in the area. With four kids, I know that hassle of loading up kids for short trips but it pays to be risk averse in such cases.

However, there remains the question of whether this warrants two criminal charges.

According to this site, many states have no age limitation specified for being left alone. Some states like North Carolina have as low as 8 years old — making this conduct lawful in that state. Others set the age at 10 years old. The problem is that this is a law that is rarely enforced and most parents leave their kids unattended for short period while they work in the yard or step out to speak with neighbors or walk the dog. Notably, the common law has long applied a rule that views children in a case by case fashion since some children are more mature than others in development. Yet, the common law historically affords children a degree of protection by imposing presumptions that children of a certain age are either incapable of negligence or presumptively incapable of negligence. Above a certain age (which differs from state to state) a standard for children applies that allows the jury to judge the reasonableness of a child of similar “age, experience, intelligence and degree of development and capacity.” While stated as an objective standard, this is a departure from the standard for adults where courts generally do not consider the intelligence of the individual. This standard is often associated with the ruling in Charbonneau v. MacRury, 84 N. H. 501 (1931).

Under the so-called “Illinois Rule,” a child as old as seven can be treated as incapable of negligence.

Here you have two kids together — aged 8 and 9. I admit that I am a bit of over protective of the kids, even as they got older. I also do not blame the driver for calling police. I would find it hard to leave two children alone in such a circumstance. However, since this was a proven short run to get take out, is it necessary in your view to charge the parent?

64 thoughts on “Can You Guess What This Person Was Charged With?”

  1. Take away the license of the driver. Busybody, Nanny-Stater. The mother should sue his a$$.

  2. My parents both worked I came home from school and started getting things ready for dinner, thawing food washing vegetables, if those were the instructions. I had good neighbors to go to if there was any problem, I went out immediately to play somewhere in the neighborhood if I didn’t have an assigned task. Age 6 on.
    The only action I question is that the family was away from home and didn’t have the support of neighbors.

  3. My big beef has been with the child labor laws which I find abusive toward children because it discourages them from working hard and makes parents who believe in hard work be tagged as abusive parents.

    For those who might think this parent was negligent, consider the following Bill of Rights:

    Free-Range Kids and Parent Bill of Rights

    Statement of findings

    Violent crime is at a 50 year low.
    The risk of child abduction by strangers is very low.
    Car accidents are the leading cause of death among children.
    Lack of exercise is a contributing factor to short term and long term health risks for children.
    It is in the public interest for children to walk and cycle to their day-to-day destinations, and to play outside unsupervised.

    Rights of Children to Freedom of Movement

    Therefore, this legislature decrees that children may walk, cycle, take public transportation and/or play outside by themselves, with the permission of a parent or guardian.
    Allowing children to exercise these rights shall not be grounds for civil or criminal charges against their parents or guardians, nor shall it be grounds for investigation by child protective services, removal of the children from their family home, or termination of parental rights.
    Rights of Parents to Make Rational Decisions

    More children die in parking lots than die waiting in parked cars while their caregivers run an errand.
    The majority of children who die in parked cars were forgotten there for hours or got into the car unbeknownst to anyone and could not get out.
    Punishing parents who let their children wait in the car for five minutes will not bring back the children forgotten there for five hours.
    Therefore, parents should be allowed to make their own decisions, based on the location, temperature, and duration of their errand, as to whether or not they wish to let their child wait in the car.
    Laws against children waiting unsupervised for a short amount of time in a parked car shall be repealed.

  4. I do not think the police should have ever been called. I see no child endangerment here at all. Professor Turley, you are a little bit overprotective I think.

  5. @SJReidhead

    WTF is up with NM? Such a beautiful state but so much craziness. Cops forcing people to have colonoscopies in the hopes of finding drugs and now this??

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