A 20-year-old father, Christopher Hiatt, allegedly left his baby in his unlocked car in the parking lot while shopping in a Walmart in Bartow County.
Someone in the parking lot noticed the baby alone in his Pontiac and called local authorities. Bartow County Deputies arrived and removes the infant from the car and found Hiatt inside the store. He told them that he had forgotten that she was in the car with him and that it was completely unintentional.
According to reports, the baby appeared in good health and was returned to her mother who took her to a nearby medical center just in case.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, it is important for me to note that just because someone has been accused of a crime does not mean that they are guilty. Hiatt has been charged with reckless conduct.
Let's look into the law behind reckless conduct in Georgia and apply it to the facts we have been given from the reports of Hiatt's case.
Reckless Conduct in Georgia
According to the Georgia Code, reckless conduct in Georgia is defined as:
“A person who causes bodily harm to or endangers the bodily safety of another person by consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his act or omission will cause harm or endanger the safety of the other person and the disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in the situation is guilty of a misdemeanor.” O.C.G.A. §16-5-40.
The Penalty for Reckless Conduct in Georgia
Most of the time, a conviction for reckless conduct in Georgia is classified as a misdemeanor. This means that the penalty can include up to 12 months in jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
According to reports, Hiatt left his infant daughter alone in an unlocked car while he went into Walmart. Although he did not cause bodily harm to his daughter, he endangered her bodily safety by disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his act could cause harm to the baby by allegedly leaving his daughter alone in an unlocked car in a public parking lot. The reckless element constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in the same situation.
However, in order to convict Hiatt, the State of Georgia will have to prove that the act of leaving an infant alone in an unlocked car is not an act that a reasonable person would have done. The Court will have to analyze several factors to determine whether or not Hiatt knew or should have known that his conduct was dangerous and reckless. These factors can include: age, mental capacity, education, nature of the crime, and state of mind.
Reckless conduct is a crime of general intent, not specific intent. As a crime of general intent, the prosecutor does not need to prove that Mr. Hiatt intended to leave his baby in the vehicle or that he intended to harm her. The state would only need to prove that his actions did not meet the standard of conduct required by an adult in supervision of a baby.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Georgia, contact a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer today. We will walk you through every step of the way and evaluate what Georgia Criminal Defenses apply to your particular case. Contact us today.