When a 4-year-old pre-Kindergarten student showed up for school acting lethargic and smelling of marijuana smoke, Cross Timbers Elementary School officials contacted Edmond police. When the child's grandmother and great-aunt arrived at the school to pick up the child, officers questioned them and determined that the boy had spent the night at his grandmother's house, and that is where he was allegedly exposed to marijuana smoke.
Charges in the Case
Police arrested the grandmother, 53-year-old Sandra Martinez, and the great-aunt, 52-year-old Peggy Pierman, on complaints of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. The child was released to the custody of his mother. While the two women are arrested on misdemeanor drug possession complaints, they could face much more serious charges, such as a felony child neglect charge.
"Child neglect" is defined in the Oklahoma Children's Code as one or more of several actions--or inactions--that put a child's safety and well-being at risk. Neglect is specifically defined in 10A O.S.§ 1-1-105 as follows:
1. The failure or omission to provide:
- adequate nurturance and affection, food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, hygiene, or appropriate education,
- medical, dental, or behavioral health care, supervision or appropriate caretakers, or
- special care made necessary by the physical or mental condition of the child,
2. The failure or omission to protect a child from exposure to any of the following:
- the use, possession, sale, or manufacture of illegal drugs,
- illegal activities, or sexual acts or materials that are not age- appropriate, or
3. Abandonment. If prosecutors charge Martinez with child neglect, she faces strict penalties under 21 O.S. § 843.5: "Any parent or other person who shall willfully or maliciously engage in enabling child neglect shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections not exceeding life imprisonment, or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one (1) year, or by a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or both such fine and imprisonment."
Child Abuse Legal Defense
When a person is given the responsibility of caring for a child, the state of Oklahoma takes that responsibility quite seriously. Abusing, neglecting, or endangering a child carries harsh penalties upon conviction, and the penalties for enabling child abuse or neglect are equal to those for the willful abuse or neglect.
To read more about domestic crimes, visit our criminal defense website, or click here to schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced child abuse defense attorney who can give you an accurate assessment of your case.