In 2005, a study was conducted that showed 69% of participants felt that parents are responsible for the juvenile crimes their delinquent teens committed. In California, gang crimes have been an issue for quite some time now. As an effort to cease these matters, a law was passed that made it a legality for parents to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control of their children. The law makes it possible for parents to serve time in prison if their children go unsupervised – basically making parents be parents. For about 150 years now, many states have held laws that make parents responsible in certain cases where children commit crimes. Laws Regarding Teenagers Many of the laws that put parents behind bars or face them with serious penalties stem from the fact that people see parents as a lead contributor to the delinquency of a minor when they refuse to step in and stop their child’s actions. Many of these laws rest on the fact that minors will commit crimes when their parents fail to exercise proper control and oversight. Public demand has brought about these laws throughout history. For instance, the Columbine High School shootings and other incidents of crime and malice have brought lawmakers to enact parental responsibility laws. Many statutes will punish parents for what they have not done rather than what they have done. So, if a child steals something, a parent may not be charged with theft… however, they may be charged for letting their child commit a crime by failing to exercise parental control to the best of their ability.

What are Status Crimes?

When you think of a parent allowing a child to run amok and commit crimes in the neighborhood, you may think of petty theft or violence. However, truancy and breaking curfew are crimes to be considered as well. Some laws will hold parents responsible when they allow their children to engage in conduct that would be illegal if an adult did it, like skipping out on school. These crimes are known as status crimes because they penalize those who are within the status age. Parents have a duty to make sure that their children are attending school and must actively ensure this at all costs.

Criminal Activity and Contributing Crimes

If an adult encourages the minor to commit crimes, then they can be prosecuted for such actions. There are many examples of this, one being an adult who furnishes a minor with alcohol. Another example is if a parent encourages a child to steal something so that they can have the item to themselves. Unlike parental responsibility for status crimes, parental responsibility in contributing crimes is based on the parent enabling the minor to commit illegal crimes for any reason.

Parental Responsibility Law and Punishment

So, you may wonder how parents are punished and held responsible when they allow a child to commit a crime. Being in violation of this law can set a parent back $1,000 or more depending on the crime and also a year in prison for this serious misdemeanor. Many states will also require a convicted parent to enter an educational program or programs. In California, this means mandatory parenting skills training imposed by the court. This is seen more as a rehabilitative matter to ensure that parents will be more responsible in the future rather than throwing them in jail and never learning from the crime. If your minor has committed a very serious crime, you may be held responsible to some degree. This is why it is a good idea to know and understand your rights as a parent and what options you have. In California, the laws can be strict on these matters to help minors stay out of legal trouble. Call The Law Office of Peter Blair today if you believe you have a case. We will help you every step of the way and offer any information we can.