While unwise, is it also illegal to leave children unattended in a car under any circumstances? I checked the penal code website, but could not find any references. However, an acquaintance assures me parents are regularly taken to court if children are in a car unattended.

There are actually two laws that address leaving children unattended in motor vehicles.

Section 22.10 of the Texas Penal Code, leaving a child in a vehicle, prohibits intentionally or knowingly leaving a child in a motor vehicle for longer than five minutes, knowing that the child is younger than 7 years of age and not attended by an individual in the vehicle who is 14 years of age or older.

This offense is a Class C misdemeanor, and a person found guilty of committing this offense could be fined up to $500.

Section 22.041 of the Texas Penal Code, abandoning or endangering a child, prohibits leaving a child in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care for the child, under circumstances which no reasonable, similarly situated adult would leave a child of that age and ability.

Under this statute a person commits an offense if having custody, care or control of a child younger than 15, he or she intentionally abandons the child in any place under circumstances that expose the child to unreasonable risk of harm.

There are many circumstances that gauge the range of punishment for committing an offense under this statute. Punishment ranges from a state jail felony to a second-degree felony. If you are interested in learning more about this statute, please refer to the penal code.

From time to time, I want to contact the Dallas Police Department to report something that’s suspicious, but not an emergency. What number would I call?

The Dallas Police Department receives all calls for service via 911. If you observe suspicious activity, or you need the police for any other reason, you should call 911. The telephone operators will take your information and forward it to our dispatchers.

Based upon the nature of your request, your call will be prioritized and dispatched to the first available unit for a response. If you have general questions about police matters that you do not think require a police response, please feel free to call the patrol division in your area.

Our office staff will assist you in getting the information you seek, or directing you to the appropriate office.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Preston Hollow.