A single mom in North Carolina is facing charges after accusations that she abandoned her two children on the side of the road without any supervision.
On October 2, 38-year-old Jennifer Westfall reportedly became so exhausted that she allegedly drove her two children to a location away from home and left them on the side of the road. Westfall is also being accused of having driven away from the spot before making sure that the youngsters, who are age 19 months and 9-years-old, were in the care of someone responsible.
A woman allegedly found the kids roadside without a guardian and took them to a nearby school where they notified CPS of the situation.
When Westfall spoke to the authorities she said that she was exhausted so she left her children on the grounds of a school campus, and not the side of the road. She said that she saw the woman collect them before she drove away, so she knew that they would be alright. She also explained that she was under the impression that she was allowed to do this based on the safe haven laws.
Safe haven, also referred to as “Baby Moses” law, is used in the United States, and one of the functions is that it gives parents who decide that they can’t take care of their baby a way to give up the infant without being questioned or charged for child abandonment. The age of the child that each state allows for this is determined by the individual states but most commonly only covers babies up to one-month-old, and in North Carolina, the cut-off period is one week. In addition, each state determines what sites are to be considered safe for drop off when the children are left so that they remain safe.
Westfall said that she was unaware of the age limit on the safe surrender law so she thought she was allowed to leave her kids with the woman who she saw that had retrieved them.
Westfall was placed under arrest and she is facing charges for two counts of misdemeanor child abuse. She has been released and her children were placed into foster care, as she is scheduled to appear in court for the allegations in December.
During an interview with a local news station, Westfall, while expressing regret over the incident, was shown speaking through intermittent sobs. She explained that due to financial issues from an inability to secure a living-wage job her fatigue caused her to feel as if she was unable to continue parenting alone. Westfall also said that she has and will always fight for her children, and she is concerned about being able to regain custody because of the charges against her.
If you or someone you love is suspected of child abuse, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.