The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and fines. Nacole Beane, 25, turned herself into Muskegon County District Court on Tuesday.
Beane said she knows now she made a mistake. "And I have to learn from it and accept my consequences," she said.
The mother of children ages 1, 2 and 6 said she went to the Walmart on Sherman Boulevard in Fruitport Township on July 7 for supplies to take to a birthday party. After her 1-year-old fell asleep during the short drive to the store, Beane said she decided to park near the store's entrance and go in without her children. While inside, a bystander called police to report three children were in a car with the windows down, and without supervision.
A 2009 state law makes it a crime to leave any child under the age of 6 in a car without supervision. Children under the age of 6 must be supervised by someone age 13 or older.
Child Protective Services have been notified and a caseworker is waiting until later to determine if any action is needed.
Beane said she fears prosecutors will make an example out of her.
"I am not an unfit mother," she said. "My kids are not abused."