A Virginia woman was sentenced to 15 years in jail on Wednesday, September 6, 2017. She left her three minor children at home alone while she went on vacation to Cancun, Mexico. Her trip was exactly one year ago in September 2016. She didn't leave an emergency number behind, and she didn't check on them while she was away.

Aida Stovall left for vacation with her boyfriend on September 13, and the police were notified on September 16 after her oldest daughter told the school principal that she and her sisters were left alone.

That's when the investigation was launched. The 11-year-old girl and her 8-year-old twin sisters took care of themselves, getting dressed and going to school on their own.

Investigation

When Stovall was on her way home from Mexico, she was arrested by U.S. Customs agents after her plane landed in Florida. She was extradited back to Virginia. The three minor children were placed with relatives. The judge ordered Stovall not to have any contact with them unless their guardian approved it.

NBC12 reported that a 67-year-old neighbor who was listed as a witness in the court documents had been asked to check in on the children while their mother would be away for five days.

She was told that the oldest daughter would do the cooking and the laundry.

Stovall was convicted on three felony counts of Child neglect. A Henrico judge sentenced the 31-year-old mother to a total of 15 years in prison with 13 and a half years suspended. That means she will be in prison for only a year and a half.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the judge is allowing the mother to serve out her time in a work-release program.

She can go to work during the day, but she must report back to the prison after working hours and spend her nights there. The Henrico Sheriff's Office will have to finalize the other requirements concerning the program for Stovall.

No isolated case

Stovall is not the only mother who has been convicted for similar cases. Mothers in other states have left their small children alone while they went shopping, to play Bingo, to go to the movies and even to go on vacation as Stovall did.

The time their children were left alone were from a few hours to up to five or more days. The case is more serious when kids are left alone overnight.

According to the law in most states, minor children should not be left at home alone. However, the age varies depending on the state. The minimum age for leaving a child home alone for a few hours in Illinois is 14 years old. The minimum age in Oregon is 10, but the minimum age in Maryland is 8. The Virginia Social Service Department has no minimum age listed, but the general rule is that small children aren't capable of taking care of themselves for long periods of time especially overnight, and each case should be judged on several factors.

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