Mother Allegedly Overdoses on Heroin in Hamburg NJ Store Bathroom
A Sussex County mother was recently charged with child endangerment after she allegedly overdosed in a 7-Eleven bathroom while her five-year-old daughter was also present and cried for help. Initially, the Hamburg Police Department responded to the store due to a report of a child being locked in the bathroom and crying for help. While the Hamburg officers were on their way, store employees managed to open the door and find the child and the mother. The mother was reportedly lying on the floor and suffering from an apparent heroin overdose. The officers later observed two hypodermic needles and 10 glassine bags of suspected heroin, according to law enforcement officials. The mother eventually regained consciousness on her own. Although the authorities did not issue any drug possession or paraphernalia charges due to the Overdose Prevention Act, the suspect was arrested and charged with child endangerment. Additionally, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), formerly the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), responded to the scene to investigate.
Setting aside the potential psychological trauma that could have occurred as the result of witnessing a parent overdose, there are also many aspects to this case that will more likely than not lead to a finding of abuse or neglect by DCPP even though no actual, physical harm was suffered by the child. Under Title 9, there are many different types of action, or inaction, that can lead to a finding of child abuse – one is the failure of a parent to provide adequate supervision of their child. Specifically, N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(c)(4) states that “abused or neglected child” means a child less than 18 years of age and whose physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as the result of the failure of his parent or guardian to exercise a minimum degree of care (a) in supplying the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, or medical or surgical care, though financially able to do so or though offered financial or other reasonable means to do so, or (b) in providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship, by unreasonably inflicting or allowing to be inflicted harm, or substantial risk thereof, including the infliction of excessive corporal punishment, or by any other acts of a similarly serious nature requiring the aid of the court.
Thus, in this case, the mother’s alleged overdose while she was in a caretaking role of her child would probably be highly indicative of a failure to exercise a minimum degree of care in providing proper supervision for her daughter and DYFS would likely enter a finding of abuse or neglect against the mother. However, that doesn’t mean that the Division can automatically step in and end the parent-child relationship. In fact, when DCPP becomes involved with any family, the parents have certain rights that cannot be infringed upon without a court order. That’s why it is important to have an attorney on your side to fight for your rights.
If you are currently involved with the Division in any capacity – an investigation or current litigation – you should consult with an experienced New Jersey DCPP defense attorney at the Tormey Law Firm who is familiar with DYFS matters and litigation. Our firm has helped countless parents manage the ordeal of dealing with DCPP and we are ready to help you today. Contact us now.