Prosecuting & Investigating Hot Car Deaths: An Interview with Hilary Weinberg and Joshua Clark

It’ll only be a few minutes. 15 at most?

A warm day.

You’ll just be popping into the dry cleaner to pick up the laundry – what harm could it be?

But for approximately 37 kids each year – not to mention the hundreds of pets – that are left in a hot car, even for what might seem like a short period of time – that act can turn deadly in a matter of minutes.

Join webinar presenters, Hilary Weinberg and Joshua Clark, as they discuss:

  • the unique nature of investigating cases where a child/vulnerable adult is left in a hot car
  • the investigative needs for successful prosecution of these cases,
  • and the kinds of experts needed to make the prosecution of these cases successful.


(This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)


Justice Clearinghouse Editors (JCH): Your webinar is specifically about investigating and prosecuting of hot car death cases. What makes these kinds of deaths/cases different, in terms of the prosecution and investigation of them? 

Hilary Weinberg: The evidence we need to be collected in these cases is different from your standard homicide case where someone has been shot or stabbed.  It requires unique meteorological evidence and instrumentation as well as different kinds of experts to testify about this evidence.




JCH: Why are hot car deaths still so prevalent or attention getting? Do you see the awareness of this issue (and subsequent prevention of) getting better?

Joshua Clark: They are prevalent because they happen everywhere.  It’s one of those crimes where demographics in a population do not matter, as we have reviewed cases from all kinds of individuals.  Our office has an awareness campaign that we rolled out last year and we had very few cases to review regarding children left in hot cars, and only one of those involved a fatality.  We are hoping for another low number season.




“A car can heat up about 19 degrees

in as little as 10 minutes,

and we’ve seen heat stroke deaths recorded

when the temperature is in the 60s.”


Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide



JCH: You’re both involved with Maricopa County’s Family Violence Bureau. The work that you do is important, but must be challenging at times. What drew you to this specific area of justice and protecting the public?
What keeps you motivated or inspired to keep going in light of some of the horrible things you must encounter as part of your jobs? 

Hilary: We both believe that we need to do what we can to protect the most vulnerable and helpless victims.  Often the victims cannot or will not help themselves and by prosecuting these cases, we give them the voice they are lacking.




JCH: A large number of our readers and subscribers are in law enforcement, but we have representation from all parts of the justice arena. Can you share some specifics of what different types of justice professionals or first responders will gain by attending your webinar? What skills or new knowledge will they gain that they can immediately use the next day on the job? 

Joshua: We will discuss some of the specialized techniques we like to see used in our cases and discuss some of the challenges that come with hot car cases in general.


To watch Prosecuting & Investigating Hot Car Deaths, click here.

Additional Resources
5 years ago
Science Made Simple: Understanding the Basics of Hot Car Deaths
Each year, 37 kids - not to mention hundreds of pets - die from heatstroke because they were left in […]