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Posts published in “Columnists – Ask the Constable”

Leaving a child unattended in a car

“Each morning I drop off my daughter at a day car center. I leave my son in his car seat, walk my daughter to the door, return to my son and then drop him off at his grandparents. Most of the time, I never lose sight of my son or car. Am I violating the law leaving him in the car by himself for a short time?”

You never stated how old your son is, but I presume he is less than seven years old. This day and time it is very dangerous to leave any child unattended in a motor vehicle.

You didn”tsay, but I am sure when you get out of your car to take your daughter into the day care center that you take your keys with you, and the windows in your vehicle are cracked open. In the summer time, even in the morning hours, it can get quite warm and muggy.

It is always dangerous to leave children in the vehicle unattended. How many times have we heard of someone leaving their small child inside the car and the child locked themselves inside or even worse “car thieves” take a vehicle not even knowing the child was in the back seat?

It all can happen so fast; be careful at any time leaving a child unattended in a car.

Now I will try to answer your question. Section 22.10 of the Penal Code states that if a person intentionally or knowingly leaves a child in a motor vehicle by themselves for longer than five minutes and the child is younger than seven years of age, they are in violation of the law and guilty of a Class “C” misdemeanor. Section 22.041 of the Texas Penal Code states that a person commits an offense if they have care, custody, or control of a child younger than 15 years old and they intentionally abandon the child in any place under circumstances that expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm. In this section “abandon” means to leave a child in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care for the child, under circumstances under which no reasonable, similarly situated adult would leave a child of that age and ability.

From what you have asked, I don’t see any violation; but always be careful and observant when leaving small children unattended even for a very short time. The law says not longer than five minutes. Thank you for your question.

Ken Jones is constable of Harris County Precinct 3, which includes most of East Harris County.

What to do if you receive a hot check

This is a very common question with merchants. If you receive a hot check closed account, or fictitious account, you must send the writer of the check a certified, return receipt requested letter making demand for the value of the check in cash or money order. If the letter is ignored or comes back, you must then take the certified letter you sent to either Judge Tony Polumbo or Judge Mike Parrott’s office (it doesn’t matter which J.P. court you use) along with the bad check.

The judge’s office will help you complete the necessary paperwork and give you a packet explaining the hot check law and procedures. After you file the hot check with the judge’s office, the judge will issue a warrant for the arrest of the individual that issued it.

The warrant is then sent over to my office and entered in our computer where Capt. George Knott assigns it and the warrant is tracked.

At any time, we can tell you the status of the warrant and the warrant investigator assigned to it.

We receive anywhere from 2700 to 3000 arrest warrants a month, and have one of the highest arrest and clearance percentages in the county, usually around a 98 percent success rate. It is very important for everyone who gets a hot check to file it, as usually the same person who wrote you a hot check has written several other merchants in our precinct a hot check.

Timing is important and a great help in catching the check writer. Don’t sit on the bad check for months; file it right away. It gives my warrant detectives a better chance of catching them.

Always get good identification from the person writing you a check; a social security number does not help us much. Get their Texas Driver’s license number, a work phone, home phone, etc.

We work hard at returning the merchant’s money from worthless checks; and yearly hundreds of thousands of dollars are recovered and returned.

The important thing to remember is to file them as soon as possible to increase your odds of us recovering the money or incarcerating the suspect.

Judge Polumbo in Baytown holds a yearly seminar on hot checks; and it is given to the public. If you would like to attend, call his office for future seminars.

If you need help in filing or information on a check you have filed, call my office at 281-427-4791 and ask for Captain George Knott.

He will be happy to answer your questions or send a warrant detective out to help you in filing your hot check. We also have “Hot Check Warning” signs free to the public to place in your business warning hot check writers that you do prosecute the hot check writer.