Orange County Criminal Defense

Four Year Old Child Abandoned at Neighbor’s Doorstep

31-year old Alonzo Brown and 37-year old Tongela Denise McBride abandoned their 4-year old daughter, Zoe Brown, at a stranger’s doorstep in South Carolina, with a note on her diaper that read “Call DFAC” or Division of Family and Child Services.  Both parents have been arrested on charges of unlawful neglect of a child.

The home owner, Roy Campbell, called the police and the child was initially taken to a local hospital where doctors determined she was in good health, authorities said.

Although she is 4 years old, Zoe Brown wears clothes made for a 24-month-old and has scars on her chest and neck that are consistent with past heart surgery, McBride said.

The girl is currently in a foster home under the care of the South Carolina Department of Social Services, where she will remain until DSS can determine whether there is a family member who can provide her with a safe environment.

Under South Carolina’s Daniel’s Law, a caregiver will not be prosecuted if they abandon a newborn baby at any state-sanctioned “safe haven” such as a hospital, church or school. The law is only applicable for children under 30 days old.

In California, the parents would have been prosecuted under a variety of child endangerment laws, including felony Penal Code section 271a (child abandonment), felony Penal Code section 273a(a) (child endangerment likely to cause GBI or death), and  misdemeanor Penal Code section 270 (failure to provide food and shelter)

California also has a “safe haven” statute where a caregiver can abandon a baby at a designated safe haven, but that law only applies to newborns that are 3 days or younger, pursuant to Penal Code section 271.5.

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