Are Parents Responsible for Children’s Crimes?

Are Parents Responsible for Children’s Crimes?

Juvenile crime refers to any crime that is committed by a child under the age of 18. There are sets of laws that address these crimes, typically heard in juvenile court. In some cases, juveniles commit crimes that are so serious they are tried as adults. No matter the crime, parents may be left wondering if they are responsible for what their children have done.

Parental Accountability Laws

In some states, there are what are known as Parental Accountability Laws. The laws are based on theories, including that parents have the duty to prevent their children from breaking the law, and that holding parents accountable is a way to deter juveniles from committing crimes. It is not to say that a parent will be held responsible for any crime their child commits.

Parents, though, have been held responsible for children who commit computer crimes, including hacking. This is because parents are generally responsible for online activities that occur in their homes. Parents have also been held accountable for children violating curfew, damaging property and other delinquent crimes.

For example:

In DeKalb County, police are pushing to go after the parents of children who have committed crimes. Police point to a recent burglary in which four teenagers broke into a pawn shop and stole $9,000 worth of guns. They want to know where the parents were at 3 a.m. when their children were running loose and committing crimes.

If the parents are charged in this case, they could face up to 120 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 under a county ordinance that may be used for the first time in a major crime. While the police want to hold the parents responsible, others feel sorry for them. They say it isn’t the parents’ fault all the time and that at some point children have to be responsible for their own actions.

Consequences of Parental Accountability Laws

When parents are held responsible for their children’s behaviors, they are not charged instead of their children, but they are charged in accordance with these specific laws. When a parent is found guilty, they may face:

  • Fines
  • Restitution to the victim
  • Court Costs
  • Participation in community service
  • Jail time

An Attorney Can Help

If your child has committed a crime in Atlanta and you face the possibility of being held responsible, an attorney can help you. Reach out to our office to set up a case evaluation with one of our criminal defense attorneys. We will review the details of your child’s case and advise you of your rights and theirs. Call now to schedule a no-cost consultation and learn more about your options. Our team will be happy to assist you in any way they can.

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