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Parental Responsibility for Juvenile Crime | LegalMatch Law Library

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What is Juvenile Crime?

Juvenile crime refers to the crimes that are committed by people under the age of 18. Each state has its own set of laws that applies to crimes committed by juveniles. These laws generally provide a lighter sentence for the offender.

However, depending on the severity of the crime a juvenile may be tried as an adult. For example, if someone under the age of 18 is charged with murder there is a good chance they will be tried as an adult.

When Can a Parent be Held Liable for Juvenile Crimes?

Some states have Parental Accountability or Parental Responsibility Laws that place parents on the hook for crimes committed by their children.

The reasoning behind thee laws is that parents have a legal duty to supervise and prevent their children from committing crimes.

While the main purpose behind these laws is to hold parents responsible for the actions of their children, another motivating factor is to decrease juvenile crime rate. The following are examples of crimes that these laws may cover:

  • Internet Access, Hacking, and Other Computer Crimes: While this is a newer area of law due to the advancement of technology, parents may be held liable for these types of crimes. Violations such as sexting and child pornography distributed electronically can result in heavy legal consequences.
  • Firearm Access: A parent may be responsible if their child uses a firearm owned or controlled by the parent.
  • Car Accidents: A parent may be held responsible for any injuries stemming from a car accident that is caused by their child.
  • Property Damage: that results from intentional actions of the child.

Under these laws, parents may face both civil and criminal penalties. Some possible consequences include the following;

  • Payment of fines and court fees;
  • Payment of costs associated with the detention, treatment and supervision of their child;
  • Restitution to the victims;
  • Participation in community service with their child; and/or
  • Jail time.

Remember to check the laws of your state to see if it has Parental Accountability or Parental Responsibility Laws and to determine how comprehensive your state’s laws are.

Can Parents Be Held Responsible for Cyberbullying, Especially If It Results in Death?

Whether parents can be held liable for cyberbullying is a gray area of the law that varies between the states. Even in the states that have dealt with this issue, whether parents can be charged for their children’s cyber crimes are still unclear.

Some jurisdictions will issue fines against parents of children who bully others. Regardless, if you state has some type of Parental Accountability or Parental Responsibility Laws you can anticipate there will be potential criminal liability for cyberbullying. The chances of this are greater is the victim is severely injured or dies.

Parents should talk to their kids about cyberbullying. They can also download monitoring apps and software on their children’s devices to both restrict and observe what their children are doing electronically.

This will help to determine if their child is bullying someone or being bullied themselves. In turn, parents will hopefully be able to stop the bullying before it goes too far.

Do I Need to Contact a Criminal Attorney on Behalf of my Child?

If your minor child has been charged with a crime, it is very important to contact and hire a local criminal attorney who has experience with juvenile crime. An attorney can inform you about the laws of your state pertaining to both juveniles and parents. Your attorney can then represent you and your child in court and formulate a course of action.

Photo of page author Ashley Folk

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 07-16-2018 02:39 PM PDT

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