My name is Danielle Diaz. One of the things I've learned in life, both inside and outside the courtroom, is that it is important to not see others as your enemy. Even though you may see the prosecutor as your enemy, he or she is just trying to do a job. It may be possible that you can get a prosecutor or the judge to be sympathetic and get him or her on your side. In order to accomplish this, you need to understand the law. I feel that most individuals do not understand the law, which is why I was motivated to create this blog.
In many cases of civil liability, parents are held liable for the negligent or intentional actions of their children. The situation is different for criminal liability where parents are rarely responsible for the criminal actions of their children. However, there are a few exceptional cases where you might be charged with a crime if your child commits a crime. Below are examples of such cases.
Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
You can be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor (CDM) if you encourage or enable your child in their criminal acts. In this case, you are being charged because you know or should know about the dangers of a crime better than the child. These laws are in place to encourage parents to prevent their children from committing a crime.
A good example is a parent using their child to shoplift expensive jewelry in a store. Say the parent creates a distraction as the child picks up and hides the jewelry. In this case, the child may be charged with shoplifting in a juvenile court while the parent may be charged with CDM.
Some states have "poor parenting" laws that make parents at least partially responsible for the criminal actions of their children. The rationale is that children are under the care and guidance of parents, and criminal actions from children represent poor care and guidance from the parents. In that case, it only makes sense that the parents should share in the punishment if a child commits a crime.
An example of such a case is driving under the influence (DUI) cases lodged against teen drivers. Parents of children accused of DUI, especially multiple DUIs that cause property damage, injury, or fatality, may share some of the criminal liability with the child.
Lastly, some states will charge you with a crime if your child commits a status crime. A status crime is an action that is only criminal to a certain group of people, but not to others. For example, it is a crime for children to skip school and loiter in the streets, but adults (even if they are students) who do the same are not committing any crime. Other examples of status crimes include firearm possession, curfew violation, and marijuana possession.
Hopefully, you won't be in a situation where the two of you are facing criminal charges any time soon. Contact a criminal defense lawyer like those at McFarland & Masters LLC if you or your child or both of you are facing criminal charges.