What Is the Law in Illinois for Leaving Children Home Alone?

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As of September 2014, Illinois law states anyone under the age of 14 “without supervision for an unreasonable time” is considered a neglected or abused minor. Someone found guilty of this kind of neglect is charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.

More serious offenses of child abandonment are when children under the age of 14 are left alone for 24 hours or more without consideration for the child’s physical and mental health. Parents found guilty of this charge serve one to three years in prison, according to Illinois Legal Aid.

Illinois law lists several criteria to determine the severity of the child neglect when the minor is left alone, including the person’s age, access to food, whether or not emergency contact numbers were left with the child, weather conditions, time of day and location of the parent/guardian at the time the child was unsupervised.

FindLaw states Illinois is one of two states that specifically proscribe when children can be left alone, as of September 2014. In Maryland, children under the age of 8 cannot be left alone in a house. FindLaw also explains the Department of Health and Human Services has guidelines for children left at home alone, including maturity level, independence and a child’s ability to follow directions.