Seeing a child trapped in a hot car is distressing. You know how hot it can be in there and the danger that imposes on the child’s life. The first thing you want to do is smash a window and get the child out. Is that something you can legally do? Here’s a look at the law.
Call the Police First
Smashing a window may not be needed. Contact the police first and see if you can spot the owner of the vehicle. Explain to the dispatcher how long this child has been trapped, and the actions of the child. It is possible for the dispatcher to tell you to smash the window if there is a risk to the child’s health.
The Law Will Depend on the State
There are new laws being introduced around the country. Too many children are dying in cars, and passers-by are too afraid to get in trouble to help.
Tennessee has signed in a law to protect those who smash the window to get the child out. A person can now take action, but they must still contact the police first. This helps to alert the police that there is a potential felony situation, and protects the passer-by from a vandalism charge.
Ohio has also approved a law to state that people can smash windows to get children out of cars. Like Tennessee, you will need to call the police first. You will also need to leave a note on the car and remain with the child until the authorities arrive.
Charges May Be Dropped
If you are in a state where there is no current law, should that stop you saving the child? In Georgia, a military veteran decided to take his chances and was arrested by police. In the end, all charges against the veteran were dropped. The view for some authorities and judges is that a jury wouldn’t convict them anyway. There was a strong defense for the actions taken.
It is possible that updates will be made to Good Samaritan Bill to protect people like the veteran. Other states may also drop charges and make changes in the future.
People aren’t protected against prosecution in all cases if they smash a window to save a child, but they do have a good defense. The important thing is to call the police first. Dispatchers can then recommend steps to take, and you make it clear that you are not doing this to cause criminal damage but to save a life. If you do find yourself being prosecuted for vandalism after breaking someone’s window to help a child, consult with an attorney to find out what your options are.