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Parental Responsibility for Juvenile Crime

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What Is Juvenile Crime?

Juvenile crime refers to the class of crimes that are committed by juveniles (persons under the age of 18). The criminal justice system has an entire set of laws that address crimes committed by juveniles. However, in some cases, juveniles can be tried as adults. 

What Are Parental Accountability Laws?

Parental Accountability Laws are laws that some states use to hold parents legally responsible for crimes committed by their children. These laws are based on a number of theories, including: 

  • Parents have a legal duty to prevent their children from committing crimes
  • Parental accountability is an effective way to decrease juvenile crime rates

What Are some Juvenile Crimes that Parents can be held Liable for?

A parent may be held liable for many types of criminal violations committed by their child. Specifically, newer violations have arisen in connection with youth and minors. Parents might be held liable for these newer crimes as well, which may include:

  • Internet access, hacking, and other computer crimes: These types of crimes are common among young people who frequently use technology. In particular, violations such as sexting and child pornography distributed over cell phones can result in heavy legal consequences. This is a new area of law, but parents might still be held liable depending on the circumstances.
  • Delinquent youth laws: Many states impose criminal liability on parents who allow their children to engage in delinquent behavior. Penalties may increase with repeat offenses and can even result in charges for negligent parenting  
  • Firearm access: Some jurisdictions hold parents responsible if their child accesses a firearm owned or controlled by the parent.   

What Are the Consequences of Parental Accountability Laws? 

There can be civil and criminal consequences for parents who are found guilty of violating Parental Accountability Laws. These consequences include: 

  • Fines
  • Payment of court fees
  • Increased participation in juvenile proceedings
  • Restitution to victims
  • Payment of costs associated with the detention, treatment and supervision of their child
  • Participation in community service with their child
  • Jail time

Do I Need a Criminal Attorney?

If your minor child has been charged with a crime, it is very important to speak to a criminal attorney, preferably one experienced in juvenile crime. A criminal attorney can advise you about the legal consequences for you and your child. 

Photo of page author Peter Clarke

, LegalMatch Content Manager

Last Modified: 03-05-2018 12:34 AM PST

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