Parents Who Left Kids in Car for Wine Tasting Enter Plea Deal

The local parents accused of leaving their two young children in a car while they attended a wine tasting on a January night have accepted a plea deal. Christophe Lucas, 41, and Jennie Chang, 45, pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree cruelty to children in D.C. Superior Court on March 19. The couple admitted to leaving their children, who are both under the age of three, in the car while they attended a wine tasting at the Ris restaurant in January. Temperatures hovered in the low 30s that night. Prosecutors said the children were wearing coats but not hats or gloves. One child was also not wearing socks or shoes.

The plea deal allows for the charges to be dismissed in nine months if the couple maintains good behavior and attends a parenting class. Lucas and Chang have already completed the court-mandated parenting course.

The children, who were in the custody of Child Protective Services following the incident, have been released back into the custody of the parents.

Lucas and Chang were originally charged with two counts each of second-degree cruelty to children. These charges could have put the parents in jail for up to six months.

The couple did not make a statement in court. Their lawyer Danny Onorato did release a statement to WTOP. It is included in full below.

“Jennie Chang and Christophe Lucas are caring, dedicated parents who had an unfortunate lapse of judgment a month ago. Ms. Chang and Mr. Lucas were monitoring and watching their children from about 50 feet away, and the parents are adamant that the children were not in any danger. They realize that their actions were wrong and they are eager to place this matter behind them. They’re pleased that the matter is now resolved and they can focus on raising their children. As you know, this case will be dismissed in December.”

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