Andria Downes and Alexandria Dockery, two young mothers from East Lansing who are both 25-years-old, are facing child abuse charges for leaving their children alone to go shopping. The pair have both been charged with misdemeanors.
According to the East Lansing Police Department, the incident began with a trip to Meijer. The two women left their children in the evening and went to the store. Downes’ three children are aged 4, 4 and 6, while Dockery’s two children are 1 and 7. No one knows if Dockery checked on her children when she got home from the store, but we know that Downes did not.
When she woke up in the morning, she discovered that her children were gone. Terrified, and unsure of how long they had been gone, she called the police and reported them missing. Law enforcement put out an emergency alert for the three children and began investigating their disappearance, but it didn’t take long to solve the mystery.
Officers soon discovered that the night before, Downes’ daughter had realized that she and her brothers were alone at home and she became frightened. Unsure of what to do, she called her father at work, and told him that they were alone and she was scared. After several unsuccessful attempts to contact Downes, he left work and went to her home, where he picked up the children and took them back to his home in Delta Township.
Once the children were located and determined to be safe, police cancelled the emergency alert and notified the public that the children had been found. According to East Lansing Police Lieutenant Scott Wriggelsworth, “Our department feels that when we reach out for the public’s and media’s help in locating someone, it’s important that the people we’re asking for help get the follow-up information
Both Dockery and Downes turned themselves in and were arraigned in the 54B District Court on a single count of Fourth Degree Child Abuse. Under Michigan law, Fourth Degree Child Abuse is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. According to police, CPS has been notified and will likely be investigating the situation.
According to court records, Downes and Dockery were each granted a bail of $1,000, which they have both since posted. No information is available on their next scheduled court appearances.
Leaving your children unattended is one of those tricky situations in Michigan. Our state doesn’t have any laws in place for when it is considered safe to leave a child unattended at home, so parents are expected to use their best judgement. This doesn’t always work out, as each child’s maturity level is different, as is each parent’s idea of what is acceptable.
If you have questions about whether or not you can leave your children alone at home, contact our experienced family law attorneys at 800-576-6035. We can help you plan well to avoid unnecessary interactions with CPS and law enforcement.