Child Abandonment Laws

Posted on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 by Farida Palupi

Where family laws are concerned, the constitution often regards the plaintiff, especially a minor with sensitivity and care. Some children have to face the brunt of broken families, divorces, illegitimate affairs, etc., which leaves them at the mercy of a guardian or parent. But when that person also shrugs off his/her responsibility and stops caring for the child, then a case of abandonment arises.

Child abandonment is the act of leaving a child below the age of 18 on his/her own, without the supervision of an adult for a particular period of time which is considered as inappropriate. An abandoned child is termed as a foundling. If the parent or guardian has no physical contact or communication with the kid during this period, and has given no financial support and has deserted the kid with the intention of forsaking, then the parent is culpable, according to the law.

Child and the Law
When a child is observed to be abandoned, the first priority should be to notify the authorities who will bring in social services to ensure his/her safety and well-being. Mostly, an abandoned child is seen wandering around the place of his/her dwelling and behaving peculiarly, which attracts the attention of the neighbors. Child abandonment is a felony and anyone accused of this crime is punishable by law.

When a person is being tried in courts for abandoning a child, the following points are considered, to decide the intensity of his crime.

The age of the child matters a lot in such cases as toddlers or babies need constant attention of the guardian and leaving them for even a few minutes unsupervised can lead to bodily harm.
The health of the child, both physical and mental is of consequence here.
The duration for which the kid is left without parental supervision.
The place where the child is abandoned. E.g. if a newborn is left in the dumpster by the mother, then she is guilty for this crime.
The condition in which the child is abandoned, like if the child is in bounds and kept locked in a room or whether the child is given sufficient food and water to survive on his own.
Whether any other factor could have endangered the life of the child. For example, leaving a child in a room which is susceptible to fire hazards is a case of gross negligence on the part of the parent.
If the child was left under the supervision of any other adult. Moreover, physical and mental health of that person is assessed too.
Whether the parent or guardian was forced to leave the child because of economic problems, health problems or any other problem which made the parent incapable for caring for the child is also considered.

A person found guilty of deserting a child which resulted in physical injury or mental agony to the child can be charged with the counts of homicide, manslaughter, and aggravated abuse or custodial sentence. However in some states, baby abandonment is legal, that is, a newborn baby can be deserted by the parent for a period of seven days from the day of his birth in specific locations like hospitals and fire stations. The objective behind such a law is to reduce the dangerous practices which parents are compelled to follow due to their inadequacy in raising a child.

Reasons for Abandonment
An abandoned child is also called social orphan by some people. That means the parents of such a child are alive but have shirked off their responsibilities. Not only does it poses a physical danger to the child, but also can lead to impaired psychological development. In the 1900 century, kids living in the streets of London were called ragamuffins. Nowadays, they are named as street children or homeless kids.

The reason behind their abandonment is often cited as poverty. However, there are also other factors that are at play here. Young parents might feel that they are incapable to share the burden of a raising a baby. Sometimes the mother and/or father who go down on this path turn out to be dealing with substance addiction, criminal offenses, health or/and some psychological issues. Also, the mother might be afraid of rejection/violence from her spouse which makes her take this drastic step. There is a "moral pressure" on the young mothers who are afraid or unaware to do something about their undesired pregnancy. Such a pregnancy can lead the parents to abandon the baby as he is not a part of their future plans (for example: studies, marriage, job, etc.).

Child abandonment is governed by the state laws. As every state has different definitions for abandonment, these laws also vary. Gradually, more states are looking forward to legalizing abandonment. 

Pepper Spray Laws

Posted on Monday, July 2, 2012 by Farida Palupi

Pepper spray is a self defense, 'easy to handle' device which is made up of an active ingredient called OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) and other inert ingredients. When you use the spray, its effects last for about 20 to 90 minutes, giving you plenty of time to escape the frightening situation.

How Does a Pepper Spray Work

The effect of pepper spray can be noticed instantly. As soon as the OC comes in contact with the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, throat, and lungs), it immediately causes dilation of the eye capillaries which in turn results in temporary blindness. It also causes inflammation of the breathing tube tissues leading to difficulty in breathing. However, the victim can breathe. Thus the short-term effects of these sprays are quite effective. You can choose the best pepper spray from various models available in the market, such as spray pens, spray lipsticks, etc.

Self Defense with Pepper Spray

Laws on pepper spray vary from state to state. In Canada, pepper spray, tear gas and mace are forbidden. The spray is classified as 'arms' under the laws of Hong Kong. Before you buy a pepper spray, you should consult your local law enforcement agency to find out the specific laws applicable to your area. Dog and bear pepper sprays are considered legal in all U.S. states. In most states, the spray is legal against bears but using mace and tear gas is not legal. (Mace is a brand name associated with pepper spray products. Mace is similar to tear gas.)

Pepper Spray Laws by State

The information provided below is by no means a legal advice. Consult a local agency to know the details about the legal use of pepper spray if you wish to use it for self defense.

Alaska: According to the section 11.61.200, any explosive, incendiary or noxious gas is listed under 'prohibited weapon' and as the spray is considered a noxious gas, it is illegal. Also, a person is said to commit the crime of misconduct involving weapons in the third degree, if the person manufactures, possesses, transports, sells, or transfers a prohibited weapon.

Arkansas: According to the section 5-73-124, concerning tear gas and pepper spray, carrying and using the spray 'only for self defense' is lawful but the capacity of the cartridge or container should not exceed 150 cubic centimeters.

District of Columbia: Despite the provisions of § 7-2501.01(7)(C), a person 18 years of age or older may possess and use a self-defense pepper spray but only if it is propelled from an aerosol container, labeled with or accompanied by clearly written instructions as to its use, and dated to indicate its anticipated useful life.

Florida: According to section 790.001(3)(b), self-defense chemical spray should be carried solely for self-defense and the device should be compact in size and should not contain more than two ounces of chemical. (in California 'more than 2.5 ounces net weight of aerosol spray' is considered illegal).

Hawaii: According to §134-1 definitions, no person is allowed to use pepper spray for self defense unless and until the person has procured from the chief of police of the county of the person's place of business, a permit to acquire the ownership of a pepper spray (which is referred to as fire-arm device).

Massachusetts: Chapter 140: Section 129B which deals with firearm identification cards, conditions and restrictions states that pepper spray (except animal repellents) can only be sold by licensed firearms dealers within the state only. A firearm identification card shall be valid for the purpose of purchasing and possessing the spray.

Michigan: Section 750.224d about self-defense spray device states that self defense spray is a device which carries and ejects or emits either a solution containing not more than 2% oleoresin capsicum or not more than 35 grams of any combination of ortho chloro benzamalo-nitrile and inert ingredients.

There are innumerable clauses and conditions regarding use of a pepper spray. These were just a few examples. The laws also regulate the manufacturing process, transportation and selling process of these sprays. There are restrictions regarding the ingredients of the spray, size of the content, label printing, user's age, etc. But it can be concluded that pepper spray is legal with restrictions in all the states. Penalties for the misuse of the spray may vary from $100 to $1000, depending upon the laws of the state.

Most of the states have made it compulsory for the manufacturers to print the name of the manufacturer and a serial number applied by him along with the expiry date on the label and insert printed instructions for use which should include directions for use, first aid information, safety and storage information, and explanation of the legal consequences of improper use of the spray container or the product. Many states like California, New York have made it compulsory for the manufacturers to print a label on every pepper spray stating: "WARNING: The use of this substance or device for any purpose other than self defense is a crime under the law. The contents are dangerous-use with care."

Whether you can buy paper spray on-line or not is also determined by the state governments. If you are confused about where to buy the spray, you should first check the rules and regulations of your state. In New York, no more than two sprays can be sold at any one time to a single purchaser.

Police also uses specially manufactured sprays for law enforcement. Law enforcement pepper spray is very beneficial for the police as it can be used as a close-quarter personal defense weapon. In Hungary, the spray is allowed for law enforcement only.

A pepper spray immediately incapacitates an assailant. But along with pepper spray laws, you have to keep it in mind that a person harassing you with a lethal weapon can injure you mortally in less time than it takes you to draw and aim the spray. Moreover, there is always a chance that an assailant may be able to take your canister away from you and use it against you. It is possible that the spray can be ineffective in terms of range in wind and rain and the spray could backfire at you in wind. Therefore, you should use the spray very cautiously.