Child neglect is a misdemeanor crime in Maryland. The law prohibits parents, family members, and other adults in the home who have care or responsibility for a child, or any other person who has care or custody or responsibility for the supervision of a child from neglecting the child. Child neglect is defined in three parts as follows:

  1. An intentional failure;
  2. To provide for the physical needs or mental health of a minor;
  3. That creates a substantial risk of harm.

People who are covered by this section include not only the parent’s child or family members, but also those who have permanent or temporary care or responsibility for supervising the child. This includes a court-appointed guardian, a soccer coach, a school teacher, a music teacher, or any other person responsible for watching or caring for the child.

The law specifically excludes cases where the needs of a minor are not met solely because the person caring for the child doesn not have enough money to pay for everything the child needs.

Read the law: MD Code, Criminal Law § 3-602.1

Under law, health practitioners, police officers, educators, and human service workers have a duty to make an oral and written report of suspected instances of child neglect to the local Department of Social Services. If an agency participating in the investigation has reason to believe that someone knowingly failed to report the neglect, they must file a complaint against them. Other persons must make either an oral or written report to the local Department of Social Services when he or she suspects child neglect, unless the person learns of the child neglect through privileged communication.

Read the law: MD Code, Family Law § 5-704


A person convicted of child neglect is subject to a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000.

Read the law: MD Code, Criminal Law § 3-602.1


Edits by Regina Strait, Esq.

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