The Incredible Case of the Falling Baby and the Importance of Mental State in Criminal Charges

Today Villalobos & Associates’ attorney, Klaudia Stolarczuk, successfully defended a client who was facing up to one year in jail after her 2 year-old child was found unhurt in a bush after somehow falling from a window in her 4th story apartment in Chicago.  Prosecutors charged the mother with a criminal charge of knowingly causing or permitting the life of the child to be endangered.  Prosecutors claimed that the mother fell asleep while watching the 2 year old and another child when the 2 year old somehow climbed out of kitchen window onto the 3rd story roof, then fell from that roof and landed, unhurt, in a bush on the ground.

At trial, Prosecutors presented evidence that the mother was the only adult watching the two children and that the 2 year-old was, in fact, found in a bush outside the apartment building.  Prosecutors also presented evidence that a chair was found in front of an open kitchen window whose screen had been knocked out.

After the State rested, Villalobos & Associates presented testimony from the client and her husband that neither one of them had seen the 2 year-old push a chair or climb on a chair or window.  They also testified that the children were never permitted to play on the 3rd story roof and that even if the 2 year-old had climbed out the kitchen window, the 3rd story roof outside of the kitchen window was bordered by a 3 foot tall lip, over which the 2 year-old would not be able to climb.  In her closing, Stolarczuk argued that the State failed to prove that the mother had the required mental state- that she “knowingly” permitted the child to be endangered.

In the end, the judge found our client not guilty and agreed with Stolarczuk’s argument that there was no evidence that the mother knew the child was capable of climbing out the window- there was no evidence that the child had ever pushed a chair and climbed up it or that it had ever tried to climb out of any of the windows.  In short, the mother did not knowingly endanger the child by allowing the child to walk around the apartment under the circumstances.

This case further illustrates the point that successfully defending charges means pushing the State to prove every element of a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt.  Villalobos & Associates has extensive criminal trial experience and knows how to successfully highlight flaws and in the State’s case.