"Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor"
Penal Code 272 PC

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a common crime for which thousands of people in California get prosecuted every year.

The most classic scenario is an adult who gets caught supplying alcohol or drugs to a teenager. But as the article below explains, Penal Code 272 PC is actually much broader than most people realize. Parents and strangers alike can get prosecuted for any behavior that tends to lead a minor down a path towards criminality, truancy from school, or becoming a dependant of the juvenile court.

At the same time, this is a crime for which many innocent people get falsely accused...often harming their family, career, and reputation.

We're a statewide law firm of former cops and former prosecutors that helps clients fight these sorts of charges.

In this article, our California criminal defense attorneys1 explain Penal Code 272 PC by addressing the following:

1. The Legal Definition of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

1.1. Penal Code 272(a)(2) PC -- parental duties
and responsibilities

1.2. Penal Code 272(b)(1) PC -- regarding strangers

2. Defenses

2.1. You are innocent / false accusations

2.2. Mistake of fact / mistake of age

2.3. Parents' inability to control their children

2.4. Consent of the minor's parents

3. Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing

3.1. Relationship to other offenses

3.2. Additional penalties

3.2.a. Professional discipline

3.2.b. Penal Code 290 registration as a
sex offender

4. Related Offenses

4.1. Penal Code 288 PC California's lewd acts with
a minor law

4.2. California's child pornography laws

4.3. Business and Professions Code 25658 furnishing
alcohol to a minor

If, after reading this article, you would like more information, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

You may also find helpful information in our related articles on Penal Code 273 PC California's Child Endangerment Law; Penal Code 288 PC California's Lewd Acts with a Minor Law; Child Pornography Laws; Presenting / Sending Harmful Matter to a Minor with the Intent of Seducing the Minor; California Sex Crimes; Penal Code 290 PC Sex Offender Registration; Penal Code 207 PC California's Kidnapping Law; Penal Code 236 PC California's False Imprisonment Law; Penal Code 646.9 PC California's Stalking Law; Business and Professions Code 25658 California's Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor Law; Infractions; Misdemeanors; Felonies; Wobblers; Legal Defenses; Criminal Convictions can Cost California Teachers Their Teaching Credentials; California Expungement Law; Certificates of Rehabilitation; and Governor's Pardons.

1. The Legal Definition of "Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor"

California Penal Code 272 defines "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" as

  1. committing an act, OR
  2. failing to perform a duty
  3. that causes a minor (that is, a person who is under 18) to become or remain
  4. a) a dependant of the juvenile court,

    b) a delinquent, or

    c) an habitual truant.2

PC 272 applies not only to adults who contribute to the delinquency of a minor. It also applies to minors themselves who contribute to the delinquency of other minors.3

Let's take a closer look at some of these terms/phrases to gain a better understanding of their legal meanings.

You commit an act or fail to perform a duty

"Acting" implies intent.  If you commit an act, it means that you engage in intentional behavior.

If you "fail to perform a duty" you either (1) intentionally fail to act, or (2) negligently fail to act.  If your omission is based on negligence, that negligence must rise to the level of "criminal negligence" in order to make you liable for a crime.

Criminal negligence is more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment.  You act with criminal negligence when your behavior is so different from the way an "ordinarily careful person" would act in the same situation that you essentially express an "I don't care" type of attitude.4

Example:  You are the passenger in a minor's car.  The minor is driving recklessly as he exceeds speeds of 90mph, weaves, and "cuts off" other drivers.  By allowing him to continue to drive like this...without encouraging him to drive safely...you fail to act.

By failing to act, your passive behavior could result in the minor being arrested for reckless driving or worse in the event that he causes injury/death to another person in an accident. Moreover, this could result in you being arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Become or remain a dependant, delinquent, or truant

For purposes of PC 272, it doesn't matter whether the child is already a dependant, delinquent, or truant.  Whether you cause the child to fall into one of these categories or simply encourage behavior that continues to lead the minor down the "wrong path" doesn't matter...either way, you could be held liable.5

Similarly, it doesn't matter whether the child actually becomes delinquent.  As long as the prosecutor can prove that your conduct (or failure to act) had the tendency to cause the child to become delinquent, you can be convicted of this offense.6 And the quantity of these "tendencies" is irrelevant...even a single act that provides the delinquent tendency will suffice.7

Examples:

  • using a minor to transport drugs,8
  • asking a minor to meet for a "secret rendezvous",9
  • knowingly providing a place for a minor to engage in sexual activity,10
  • engaging in sexual activity with a minor,11
  • asking a minor to pose nude...or even partially nude...for pictures,12 and
  • furnishing alcohol to a minor (discussed under Section 4. Related Offenses).13

Dependant of the juvenile court

There are numerous ways for a child to become a "dependant" of the juvenile court.  Some examples include (but are not necessarily limited to) situations where the minor's parent/guardian

  • inflicts serious physical harm on the child (or on one of the child's siblings)...or places the minor at risk of suffering such harm (serious physical harm includes sexual abuse that the parent/guardian either inflicted on the child or knowingly failed to prevent),
  • subjects the child to severe emotional abuse/damage, and/or
  • neglects to provide food, clothing, shelter, or...in certain cases, medical care...for the child.14

Delinquent

A delinquent child is a minor who has committed a crime...which even includes violating an age-based curfew...or who habitually refuses to obey reasonable orders or directions from his/her parent/guardian. A child who is beyond a parent's control may be classified as a delinquent.15

Habitual truant

A child may be classified as a "habitual truant"...and become a ward of the juvenile court...if he/she has four or more unexcused absences from school in any one school year.

Therefore, encouraging a minor to "ditch" school (or enabling him/her to do so) subjects you to charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.16

1.1. Penal Code 272(a)(2) PC -- parental duties and responsibilities

Subdivision (a)(2) of Penal Code 272 deals with parents' duties and responsibilities.  In this respect, this offense is very similar to Penal Code 273a PC California's child endangerment law.

This is because...much like California's child endangerment law...Penal Code 272(a)(2) PC holds parents liable for failure to exercise

  • reasonable care,
  • supervision,
  • protection, and/or
  • control

over their children.17 The purpose of the law is to help safeguard children from those influences which could cause them to become or remain delinquent.18 If parents fails to supervise, control and protect their minor children...and that failure results in the children's delinquency / dependency...the parents could be liable for contributing to the delinquency of minors.

However, if the parent reasonably tries to control his/her child but is simply unable to do so, he/she does not act with criminal negligence and...as a result...should not be prosecuted.19

1.2. Penal Code 272(b)(1) PC -- regarding strangers

Another subdivision of PC 272 addresses "strangers" who contact minors under 14 years of age.  PC 272(b)(1) prohibits an adult stranger...that is, a person 21 years or older who has no substantial relationship with the minor or who has only established a relationship for the purpose of victimization...from knowingly contacting or communicating with a minor under 14 for the purpose of

  • persuading and luring, or
  • transporting,

the minor away from his/her home or any location known by the minor's parents/guardians.  Although this "persuading, luring, or transporting" may be for any reason, the "stranger" must intend to avoid the consent of the minor's parent/guardian.20

However, if the stranger

  • obtained consent from the parent/guardian, or
  • only acted in an "emergency" situation to prevent the minor from imminent physical, emotional, or psychological harm,

he/she is not liable for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.21

2. Defenses

Fortunately, there are a variety of legal defenses to a Penal Code 272 PC contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge that a skilled California criminal defense lawyer can present on your behalf.  Some examples include (but are not limited to):

2.1. You are innocent / false accusations

It's easy for people to get wrongly accused of improprieties involving minors.  This is because

  1. many children know that they can falsely accuse an individual of a crime in order to "get back at them" for one reason or another, or to gain attention; and/or
  2. many adults know they can hurt or damage another adult's reputation by accusing the person of a crime involving a child (often as a form of revenge, jealousy, or to gain an upper hand in a custody or divorce battle).

If you have been falsely accused of violating Penal Code 272 PC California's contributing to the delinquency of a minor law, you should immediately consult with a California criminal defense attorney who can investigate the case and expose the falsehoods.

2.2. Mistake of fact / mistake of age

The crux of this law is that you are contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  This means if you did not know...and there was no reason for you reasonably to know...that the person was under 18 years of age, you shouldn't be held liable for this offense.22

2.3. Parents' inability to control their children

It bears repeating that if you are a parent accused of failing to exercise reasonable care, protection, or control over your own child...and that failure potentially causes your child to become or remain a delinquent...you are liable under Penal Code 272. But only if you did nothing to prevent it.

However, if you reasonably tried to protect and/or control your child...but because of your child's strength, temper, will-power, or outright defiance, you are simply unable to do so...you have not violated California's contributing to the delinquency of a minor law.

Whether or not you made sufficient effort to control the child is ultimately a matter for the judge/jury to determine. This is why having an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential.

As Santa Ana criminal defense lawyer John Murray23 explains, "The key to a successful defense in a Penal Code 272 PC prosecution is demonstrating that the client's acts were reasonable and did nothing to encourage delinquency or dependency.  A savvy attorney who has mastered this area of the law is in the best position to do that."

2.4. Consent

If you are accused of violating California Penal Code 272(b)(1)...that is, being an adult stranger who has communicated with or contacted a minor under 14 to lure him/her away from his/her known location...you should be vindicated of any criminal wrongdoing if you first obtained parental consent.

This means that if you obtained consent from the minor's parent/guardian to be with or communicate with the minor, this should serve as an effective legal defense.

And remember, if you only contacted or communicated with the minor to help protect him/her in an emergency situation, you may escape criminal liability on that basis as well.

3. Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing

Generally, California's law against contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a misdemeanor, punishable by

  • up to one year in a county jail,
  • a fine of up to $2,500, and
  • up to five years of informal probation.24

However, if you are charged under Penal Code 272(b)(1), the offense is what's known as a wobbler.  A "wobbler" is a crime that the prosecutor may charge as either a misdemeanor or an infraction.25

If you are convicted a misdemeanor under this subdivision, you face up to six months in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.26

If you are convicted an infraction under this subdivision, you simply face a maximum $250 fine.27

3.1. Relationship to other offenses

Contacting or communicating with a minor under 14 that contribute to the minor's dependency or delinquency is, therefore, a relatively minor offense.  However, if you actually lure or transport the minor away from his/her location...or monitor the child's whereabouts to plan your contact or communication...you could alternatively be charged with

3.2. Additional penalties

In addition to the penalties above, there are a few others that may be imposed in connection with a Penal Code 272 PC conviction.

3.2.a. Professional discipline

Certain individuals will face professional repercussions for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  Professional discipline will most likely affect individuals who work with children, such as

  • teachers,
  • teachers assistants,
  • school administrators, and
  • those who wish to obtain credentials to obtain these types of positions.

This is because certain criminal convictions can cost California teachers their teaching credentials.  These typically include any offenses involving impropriety minors, and may specifically include contributing to the delinquency of a minor...particularly if the behavior involved lewd or lascivious conduct (discussed more fully in Section 4. Related Offenses).31

3.2.b. Penal Code 290 registration as a sex offender

Similarly, if the conduct alleged under Penal Code 272 PC involved lewd and lascivious acts, you face lifetime registration as a sex offender.32

Registration as a sex offender is, perhaps, one of the most devastating penalties to which you can be sentenced.  Fortunately, California expungement law provides some remedies to stop your registration requirements.

If you obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation and/or a California Governor's Pardon, you will be permitted to discontinue your sex offender registration.

4. Related Offenses

In addition to the crimes referenced above, there are a number of other offenses that may be charged in addition to or in lieu of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  Some of these include (but are not limited to):

4.1. Penal Code 288 PC California's lewd acts with a minor law

Penal Code 288 PC California's lewd acts with a minor law (also interchangeably referred to as California's "lewd and lascivious acts" law and child molestation) prohibits touching a child anywhere on the body...even on the outside of the clothing...if the touching is done "with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions or sexual desires of the perpetrator or the child".33

Most, though not necessarily all instances involving child molestation will also be a violation of Penal Code 272 PC.

This means that even if the prosecutor charges you with committing lewd acts with a minor...and the judge believes that in your particular circumstances you couldn't have violated Penal Code 288 without also necessarily violating Penal Code 272 PC...the judge will instruct the jury that they can find you guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor as a "lesser included offense" instead of the charged offense.34

This is an instance when obtaining a Penal Code 272 PC conviction could be considered a victory.  And along these same lines, your California defense attorney may want to try to negotiate for a PC 272 conviction during a plea bargain if you are charged with a more serious California sex crime.

4.2. California's child pornography laws

California has a variety of laws that are designed to protect children from being

  1. sexually exploited in child pornography, and
  2. presented with "harmful" or obscene matter.

If you are in any way involved with the child pornography industry or are accused of presenting / sending harmful matter to a minor with the intent of seducing the minor,35 you would likely face charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor as well.

Penal Code 272 PC is designed to keep children from being subjected to activities that endanger their well-being.  Most judges / juries would believe that having a child engage in child pornography or view any pornographic images would certainly violate this law.

4.3. Business and Professions Code 25658 furnishing alcohol to a minor

You violate Business and Professions Code 25658 California's "furnishing alcohol to a minor" law anytime you furnish alcohol to an underage minor...that is, person under 21.  You "furnish" an alcoholic beverage when you

  • give or sell alcohol to a minor,
  • purchase alcohol for a minor, or
  • permit a minor to consume alcohol in your presence.

When you engage in any of these acts, you arguably also contribute to the delinquency of a minor.

Call us for help...
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If you or loved one is charged with Penal Code 272 PC delinquency of a minor and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

Additionally, our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense attorneys are available to answer any questions about Nevada's laws regarding contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  For more information, we invite you to contact our local attorneys at one of our Nevada law offices, located in Reno and Las Vegas.36

Legal References:

1Our California criminal defense attorneys have local Los Angeles law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.  We have additional law offices conveniently located throughout the state in Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

2California Penal Code 272 PC -- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  ("(a)(1) Every person who commits any act or omits the performance of any duty, which act or omission causes or tends to cause or encourage any person under the age of 18 years to come within the provisions of Section 300, 601, or 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code or which act or omission contributes thereto, or any person who, by any act or omission, or by threats, commands, or persuasion, induces or endeavors to induce any person under the age of 18 years or any ward or dependent child of the juvenile court to fail or refuse to conform to a lawful order of the juvenile court, or to do or to perform any act or to follow any course of conduct or to so live as would cause or manifestly tend to cause that person to become or to remain a person within the provisions of Section 300, 601, or 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both fine and imprisonment in a county jail, or may be released on probation for a period not exceeding five years. (2) For purposes of this subdivision, a parent or legal guardian to any person under the age of 18 years shall have the duty to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control over their minor child. (b)(1) An adult stranger who is 21 years of age or older, who knowingly contacts or communicates with a minor who is under 14 years of age, who knew or reasonably should have known that the minor is under 14 years of age, for the purpose of persuading and luring, or transporting, or attempting to persuade and lure, or transport, that minor away from the minor's home or from any location known by the minor's parent, legal guardian, or custodian, to be a place where the minor is located, for any purpose, without the express consent of the minor's parent or legal guardian, and with the intent to avoid the consent of the minor's parent or legal guardian, is guilty of an infraction or a misdemeanor, subject to subdivision (d) of Section 17. (2) This subdivision shall not apply in an emergency situation. (3) As used in this subdivision, the following terms are defined to mean: (A) "Emergency situation" means a situation where the minor is threatened with imminent bodily harm, emotional harm, or psychological harm. (B) "Contact" or "communication" includes, but is not limited to, the use of a telephone or the Internet, as defined in Section 17538 of the Business and Professions Code. (C) "Stranger" means a person of casual acquaintance with whom no substantial relationship exists, or an individual with whom a relationship has been established or promoted for the primary purpose of victimization, as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 6600 of the Welfare and Institutions Code. (D) "Express consent" means oral or written permission that is positive, direct, and unequivocal, requiring no inference or implication to supply its meaning. (4) This section shall not be interpreted to criminalize acts of persons contacting minors within the scope and course of their employment, or status as a volunteer of a recognized civic or charitable organization. (5) This section is intended to protect minors and to help parents and legal guardians exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control over minor children.")

See also Judicial Council Of California Criminal Jury Instruction (CALCRIM) 2980 - Contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  ("The defendant is charged [in Count ] with contributing to the delinquency of a minor [in violation of Penal Code section 272]. To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that: <Alternative A-caused or encouraged minor to come under jurisdiction of juvenile court> [1 The defendant (committed an act/ [or] failed to perform a duty); AND 2 In (doing so/ [or] failing to do so)[,] the defendant (caused[,]/ [or] encouraged[,]/ [or] contributed to (causing/ [or] encouraging)) a minor to become [or continue to be] a (dependent /delinquent) child of the juvenile court.] <Alternative B-induced minor to come or remain under jurisdiction of juvenile court or not to follow court order> [The defendant by (act[,]/ [or] failure to act[,]/ [or] threat[,]/ [or] command[,]/ [or] persuasion) induced or tried to induce a (minor/delinquent child of the juvenile court/dependent child of the juvenile court) to do either of the following: 1 Fail or refuse to conform to a lawful order of the juvenile court; OR 2 (Do any act/Follow any course of conduct/Live in a way) that would cause or obviously tend to cause that person to become or remain a (dependent /delinquent) child of the juvenile court.] In order to commit this crime, a person must act with [either] (general criminal intent/ [or] criminal negligence). [In order to act with general criminal intent, a person must not only commit the prohibited act [or fail to do the required act], but must do so intentionally or on purpose. However, it is not required that he or she intend to break the law.] [Criminal negligence involves more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment. A person acts with criminal negligence when: 1 He or she acts in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury; AND 2 A reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk. In other words, a person acts with criminal negligence when the way he or she acts is so different from the way an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation that his or her act amounts to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of that act.] A minor is a person under 18 years old. [Under the law, a person becomes one year older as soon as the first minute of his or her birthday has begun.] [A parent [or legal guardian] has a duty to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control over his or her minor child.] [A guardian means the legal guardian of a child.] <A. Dependent Child Defined: Physical Abuse> [A minor may become a dependent child  [and thus the subject of a Penal Code 272 PC contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge] if his or her parent [or guardian] has intentionally inflicted serious physical harm on him or her, or there is a substantial risk that the parent [or guardian] will do so. [The manner in which a less serious injury, if any, was inflicted, any history of repeated infliction of injuries on the child or the child's siblings, or a combination of these and other actions by the parent or guardian may be relevant to whether the child is at substantial risk of serious physical harm.] [Serious physical harm does not include reasonable and age-appropriate spanking of the buttocks when there is no evidence of serious physical injury.]] <B. Dependent Child Defined: Neglect> [A minor may become a dependent child if he or she has suffered, or is at substantial risk of suffering, serious physical harm or illness as a result of [one of the following]: [1.] [The failure or inability of his or her parent [or guardian] to adequately supervise or protect the child(;/.)] [OR] [(1/2).] [The willful or negligent failure of his or her parent [or guardian] to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment(;/.)] [OR] [(1/2/3).] [The inability of his or her parent [or guardian] to provide regular care for the child due to the parent's [or guardian's] (mental illness[,]/ [or] developmental disability[,]/ [or] substance abuse).] [A minor cannot become a dependent child based only on the fact that there is a lack of emergency shelter for the minor's family.] [Deference must be given to a parent's [or guardian's] decision to give medical treatment, nontreatment, or spiritual treatment through prayer alone in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination, by one of its accredited practitioners. A minor cannot be found to be a dependent child unless such a finding is necessary to protect the minor from suffering serious physical harm or illness. The following factors may bear on such a determination: 1 The nature of the treatment proposed by the parent [or guardian]; 2 The risks, if any, to the child posed by the course of treatment or nontreatment proposed by the parent [or guardian]; 3 The risks, if any, of any alternative course of treatment being proposed for the child by someone other than the parent [or guardian]; AND 4 The likely success of the course of treatment or nontreatment proposed by the parent [or guardian].] [A minor may be a dependent child only as long as necessary to protect him or her from the risk of suffering serious physical harm or illness.]] <C. Dependent Child Defined: Serious Emotional Damage> [A minor may become a dependent child if (his or her parent's [or guardian's] conduct[,]/ [or] the lack of a parent [or guardian] who is capable of providing appropriate care[,]) has caused the minor to suffer serious emotional damage or to face a substantial risk of suffering serious emotional damage. Serious emotional damage may be shown by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or unruly, aggressive behavior toward himself, herself, or others. [However, a minor cannot become a dependent child on this basis if the parent [or guardian] willfully fails to provide mental health treatment to the minor based on a sincerely held religious belief and a less-intrusive intervention is available.]] <D. Dependent Child Defined: Sexually Abused> [A minor may become a dependent child if he or she: 1 Has been sexually abused; 2 Faces a substantial risk of being sexually abused by (his or her (parent/ [or] guardian)/ [or] a member of his or her household); OR 3 Has a parent [or guardian] who has failed to adequately protect him or her from sexual abuse when the parent [or guardian] knew or reasonably should have known that the child was in danger of sexual abuse.] <E. Dependent Child Defined: Severe Physical Abuse Under Age Five> [A minor may become a dependent child if he or she is under five years old and has suffered severe physical abuse by a parent or by any person known by the parent if the parent knew or reasonably should have known that the person was physically abusing the child. As used here, the term severe physical abuse means any of the following: 1 A single act of abuse that causes physical trauma of sufficient severity that, if left untreated, would cause permanent physical disfigurement, permanent physical disability, or death; 2 A single act of sexual abuse that causes significant bleeding, deep bruising, or significant external or internal swelling; 3 More than one act of physical abuse, each of which causes bleeding, deep bruising, significant external or internal swelling, bone fracture, or unconsciousness; OR 4 The willful, prolonged failure to provide adequate food.] <F. Dependent Child Defined: Parent or Guardian Caused Death> [A minor may become a dependent child if his or her parent [or guardian] caused the death of another child through abuse or neglect.] <G. Dependent Child Defined: Left Without Support> [A minor may become a dependent child [and therefore the victim of a Penal Code 272 PC contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge] if he or she has been left without any provision for support.] [A minor may become a dependent child if he or she has been voluntarily surrendered according to law and has not been reclaimed within the 14-day period following that surrender.] [A minor may become a dependent child if his or her parent [or guardian] has been incarcerated or institutionalized and cannot arrange for the child's care.] [A minor may become a dependent child if his or her relative or other adult custodian with whom he or she resides or has been left is unwilling or unable to provide care or support for the child, the parent's whereabouts are unknown, and reasonable efforts to locate the parent have been unsuccessful.] <H. Dependent Child Defined: Freed for Adoption> [A minor may become a dependent child if he or she has been freed for adoption by one or both parents for 12 months by either relinquishment or termination of parental rights, or an adoption petition has not been granted.] <I. Dependent Child Defined: Acts of Cruelty> [A minor may become a dependent child if he or she has been subjected to an act or acts of cruelty by (his or her (parent/ [or] guardian)/ [or] a member of his or her household), or the parent [or guardian] has failed to adequately protect the child from an act or acts of cruelty when the parent [or guardian] knew or reasonably should have known that the child was in danger of being subjected to an act or acts of cruelty.] <J. Dependent Child Defined: Sibling Abused> [A minor may become a dependent child if his or her sibling has been abused or neglected, as explained above, and there is a substantial risk that the child will be abused or neglected in the same way. The circumstances surrounding the abuse or neglect of the sibling, the mental condition of the parent [or guardian], and other factors may bear on whether there is a substantial risk to the child.] <Delinquent Child Defined> [A delinquent child is a minor whom a court has found to have committed a crime.] [A delinquent child is [also] a minor who has violated a curfew based solely on age.] [A delinquent child is [also] a minor who persistently or habitually refuses to obey the reasonable and proper orders or directions of his or her parent [or guardian or custodian], or who is beyond the control of that person.] [A delinquent child is [also] a minor who <insert other grounds for delinquency from Welf. & Inst. Code, § 601>.] <Sexual Abuse Defined> [Sexual abuse includes (rape[,]/ [and] statutory rape[,]/ [and] rape in concert[,]/ [and] incest[,]/ [and] sodomy[,]/ [and] lewd or lascivious acts on a child[,]/ [and] oral copulation[,]/ [and] sexual penetration [,]/ [and] child molestation[,]/ [and] employing a minor to perform obscene acts[,]/ [and] preparing, selling, or distributing obscene matter depicting a minor). To decide whether the (parent/guardian/ <insert description of person alleged to have committed abuse> committed (that/one of those) crime[s], please refer to the separate instructions that I (will give/have given) you on (that/those) crime[s]. [Sexual abuse also includes, but is not limited to, the following: • [Any penetration, however slight, of the vagina or anal opening of one person by the penis of another person, whether or not semen is emitted(;/.)] • [Any sexual contact between the genitals or anal opening of one person and the mouth or tongue of another person(;/.)] • [Any intrusion by one person into the genitals or anal opening of another person, including the use of any object for this purpose[, unless it is done for a valid medical purpose](;/.)] • [The intentional touching of the genitals or intimate parts (including the breasts, genital area, groin, inner thighs, and buttocks), or the clothing covering them, of a child, or of the perpetrator by a child, for purposes of sexual arousal or gratification(;/.) [However, sexual abuse does not include touching that may be reasonably construed as normal caretaker responsibilities, interactions with, or demonstrations of affection for the child, or acts performed for a valid medical purpose(;/.)]] • [The intentional masturbation of the perpetrator's genitals in the child's presence(;/.)] • [Conduct by (someone who knows that he or she is aiding, assisting, employing, using, persuading, inducing, or coercing/a person responsible for a child's welfare who knows that he or she is permitting or encouraging) a child to engage in[, or assist others to engage in,] (prostitution[,]/ [or] a live performance involving obscene sexual conduct[,]/ [or] posing or modeling, alone or with others, for purposes of preparing a film, photograph, negative, slide, drawing, painting, or other pictorial depiction involving obscene sexual conduct)(;/.) [A person responsible for a child's welfare is a (parent[,]/ [or] guardian[,]/ [or] foster parent[,]/ [or] licensed administrator or employee of a public or private residential home, residential school, or other residential institution)(;/.)]] • [Photographing, developing, duplicating, printing, depicting, or exchanging, any film, photograph, videotape, negative, or slide knowing that it shows a child engaged in an act of obscene sexual conduct. [However, sexual abuse does not include (conduct by a person engaged in legitimate medical, scientific, or educational activities[;]/ [or] lawful conduct between spouses[;]/ conduct by a person engaged in law enforcement activities[;]/ [or] conduct by an employee engaged in work for a commercial film developer while acting within the scope of his or her employment and as instructed by his or her employer, provided that the employee has no financial interest in the commercial developer who employs him or her).]]")

3In re James P. (1981) 115 Cal.App.3d 681, summary.  ("On appeal by the minor, claiming that because he himself was a minor, he fell within the class sought to be protected under Pen. Code, � 272 [California's contributing to the delinquency of a minor law], and therefore should not have been "found ... guilty" under that section, the Court of Appeal affirmed the juvenile court's order. It held that the statute specifying the offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor (Pen. Code, � 272) is unambiguous and needs no interpretation and that every person who commits the specified misconduct commits the statutory offense irrespective of whether the offender is an adult or a minor.")

4California Jury Instructions, Criminal.  CALJIC 3.36 -- Criminal negligence.  ("["Criminal negligence"] ["Gross negligence"] means conduct which is more than ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence is the failure to exercise ordinary or reasonable care. ["Criminal negligence"] ["Gross negligence"] refers to [a] negligent act[s] which [is] [are] aggravated, reckless or flagrant and which [is] [are] such a departure from the conduct of an ordinarily prudent, careful person under the same circumstances as to be contrary to a proper regard for [human life] [danger to human life] or to constitute indifference to the consequences of those act[s]. The facts must be such that the consequences of the negligent act[s] could reasonably have been foreseen and it must appear that the [death] [danger to human life] was not the result of inattention, mistaken judgment or misadventure but the natural and probable result of an aggravated, reckless or flagrantly negligent act.")

5People v. Norris (1967) 254 Cal.App.2d 296, 300.  ("It is no defense [to a Penal Code 272 PC California charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor] that the minor was already leading an immoral life, since the statute punishes acts which tend to cause the minor to remain delinquent.")

6People v. Bobb (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 88, 96 - disapproved on other grounds.  ("...it is true the activities sufficient to support a conviction for contributing [to the delinquency of a minor] need not actually result in the minor's delinquency ( People v. Norris, supra, 254 Cal.App.2d at p. 300; People v. Wilhite (1920) 49 Cal.App. 246, 250-251 [193 P. 151])...")

7Many cases involving Penal Code 272 PC California's contributing to the delinquency of a minor law are based on single offenses that reveal no history of established conduct.

8People v. De Paula (1954) 43 Cal.2d 643.

9People v. Hemma (1928) 94 Cal.App. 25.

10People v. Reznick (1946) 75 Cal.App.2d 832

11People v. Norris (1967) 254 Cal.App.2d 296.

12People v. Koosistra (1922) 58 Cal.App. 277.

13People v. Stanley (1947) 78 Cal.App.2d 358.

14See CALCRIM 2980 -- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor, endnote 2, above.

15See same.  ("<Delinquent Child Defined> [A delinquent child is a minor whom a court has found to have committed a crime.] [A delinquent child is [also] a minor who has violated a curfew based solely on age.] [A delinquent child is [also] a minor who persistently or habitually refuses to obey the reasonable and proper orders or directions of his or her parent [or guardian or custodian], or who is beyond the control of that person.] [A delinquent child is [also] a minor who <insert other grounds for delinquency from Welf. & Inst. Code, § 601>.]")

16California Welfare and Institutions Code 601 -- Minors habitually disobedient or truant; contact with minor in truancy program; notice to appear.  ("(a) Any person under the age of 18 years who persistently or habitually refuses to obey the reasonable and proper orders or directions of his or her parents, guardian, or custodian, or who is beyond the control of that person, or who is under the age of 18 years when he or she violated any ordinance of any city or county of this state establishing a curfew based solely on age is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court which may adjudge the minor to be a ward of the court. (b) If a minor has four or more truancies within one school year as defined in Section 48260 of the Education Code or a school attendance review board or probation officer determines that the available public and private services are insufficient or inappropriate to correct the habitual truancy of the minor, or to correct the minor's persistent or habitual refusal to obey the reasonable and proper orders or directions of school authorities, or if the minor fails to respond to directives of a school attendance review board or probation officer or to services provided, the minor is then within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court which may adjudge the minor to be a ward of the court. However, it is the intent of the Legislature that no minor who is adjudged a ward of the court pursuant solely to this subdivision shall be removed from the custody of the parent or guardian except during school hours. (c) To the extent practically feasible, a minor who is adjudged a ward of the court pursuant to this section shall not be permitted to come into or remain in contact with any minor ordered to participate in a truancy program, or the equivalent thereof, pursuant to Section 602. (d) Any peace officer or school administrator may issue a notice to appear to a minor who is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court pursuant to this section.")

17See California Penal Code 272 PC -- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor, subdivision (a)(2), endnote 2, above.  ("(2) For purposes of this subdivision, a parent or legal guardian to any person under the age of 18 years shall have the duty to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control over their minor child.")

18Brekke v. Wills (2005) 125 Cal.App.4th 1400, 1411.  ("By imposing upon parents a duty to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control over their minor child, Penal Code section 272 [California's contributing to the delinquency of a minor law] is intended to "safeguard children from those influences which would tend to cause them to become delinquent."")

19Williams v. Garcetti (1993) 5 Cal.4th 561, 574.  ("Plaintiffs also fear the statute punishes parents who try but fail to control their children. In tort law, however, "[t]he duty of a parent is only to exercise such ability to control his child as he in fact has at the time when he has the opportunity to exercise it and knows the necessity of so doing. The parent is not under a duty so to discipline his child as to make it amenable to parental control when its exercise becomes necessary to the safety of others." (Rest.2d Torts, � 316, com. b.) In other words, a parent who makes reasonable efforts to control a child but is not actually able to do so does not breach the duty of control. This is consistent with the rule that " 'there is no [civil] liability upon the parent unless he has had an opportunity to correct specific propensity on the part of the child, and that it is too much to hold the parent responsible for general incorrigibility and a bad disposition.' " ( Singer v. Marx, supra, 144 Cal.App.2d at p. 644.) A fortiori, parents who reasonably try but are unable to control their children are not criminally negligent.")

20See Penal Code 272 -- California's contributing to the delinquency of a minor law, subdivision (b)(1), endnote 2, above.  ("(b)(1) An adult stranger who is 21 years of age or older, who knowingly contacts or communicates with a minor who is under 14 years of age, who knew or reasonably should have known that the minor is under 14 years of age, for the purpose of persuading and luring, or transporting, or attempting to persuade and lure, or transport, that minor away from the minor's home or from any location known by the minor's parent, legal guardian, or custodian, to be a place where the minor is located, for any purpose, without the express consent of the minor's parent or legal guardian, and with the intent to avoid the consent of the minor's parent or legal guardian, is guilty of an infraction or a misdemeanor, subject to subdivision (d) of Section 17. (2) This subdivision shall not apply in an emergency situation. (3) As used in this subdivision, the following terms are defined to mean: (A) "Emergency situation" means a situation where the minor is threatened with imminent bodily harm, emotional harm, or psychological harm. (B) "Contact" or "communication" includes, but is not limited to, the use of a telephone or the Internet, as defined in Section 17538 of the Business and Professions Code. (C) "Stranger" means a person of casual acquaintance with whom no substantial relationship exists, or an individual with whom a relationship has been established or promoted for the primary purpose of victimization, as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 6600 of the Welfare and Institutions Code. (D) "Express consent" means oral or written permission that is positive, direct, and unequivocal, requiring no inference or implication to supply its meaning. (4) This section shall not be interpreted to criminalize acts of persons contacting minors within the scope and course of their employment, or status as a volunteer of a recognized civic or charitable organization. (5) This section is intended to protect minors and to help parents and legal guardians exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control over minor children.")

21See same.

22People v. Atchison (1978) 22 Cal.3d 181, 182-183.  ("The judge instructed the jury on the contributing-to-delinquency charge as follows (italics added): 'You are instructed that in a prosecution for contributing to the delinquency of a minor by committing an act causing, tending to cause, or encouraging a person under the age of 18 years to lead an idle, dissolute, lewd, or immoral life, if defendant commits such an act, it is immaterial whether or not he knew the age of the minor.' That instruction was erroneous.")

23Santa Ana criminal defense lawyer John Murray is a former prosecutor who now defends clients throughout Orange County, including Fullerton, Anaheim, Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Irvine and Westminster.

24See Penal Code 272 -- California's contributing to the delinquency of a minor law, endnote 2, above.

25See same, subdivision (b)(1).

26California Penal Code 19 -- Punishment for misdemeanor; punishment not otherwise prescribed.  ("Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both.")

27California Penal Code 19.8 PC -- Infractions; classification of offenses; fines; effect of conviction.  ("...Except where a lesser maximum fine is expressly provided for a violation of any of those sections, any violation which is an infraction is punishable by a fine not exceeding two hundred fifty dollars ($250)...")

28California Penal Code 207 PC -- Kidnapping.  ("(b) Every person, who for the purpose of committing any act defined in Section 288, hires, persuades, entices, decoys, or seduces by false promises, misrepresentations, or the like, any child under the age of 14 years to go out of this country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping. (c) Every person who forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, takes or holds, detains, or arrests any person, with a design to take the person out of this state, without having established a claim, according to the laws of the United States, or of this state, or who hires, persuades, entices, decoys, or seduces by false promises, misrepresentations, or the like, any person to go out of this state, or to be taken or removed therefrom, for the purpose and with the intent to sell that person into slavery or involuntary servitude, or otherwise to employ that person for his or her own use, or to the use of another, without the free will and consent of that persuaded person, is guilty of kidnapping. (d) Every person who, being out of this state, abducts or takes by force or fraud any person contrary to the law of the place where that act is committed, and brings, sends, or conveys that person within the limits of this state, and is afterwards found within the limits thereof, is guilty of kidnapping. (e) For purposes of those types of kidnapping requiring force, the amount of force required to kidnap an unresisting infant or child is the amount of physical force required to take and carry the child away a substantial distance for an illegal purpose or with an illegal intent. (f) Subdivisions (a) to (d), inclusive, do not apply to any of the following: (1) To any person who steals, takes, entices away, detains, conceals, or harbors any child under the age of 14 years, if that act is taken to protect the child from danger of imminent harm. (2) To any person acting under Section 834 or 837.")

See also Penal Code 208 PC -- Kidnapping; punishment.  ("(a) Kidnapping is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, five, or eight years. (b) If the person kidnapped is under 14 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime [the same age that becomes the basis of a Penal Code 272(b)(1) contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge], the kidnapping is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 5, 8, or 11 years. This subdivision is not applicable to the taking, detaining, or concealing, of a minor child by a biological parent, a natural father, as specified in Section 7611 of the Family Code, an adoptive parent, or a person who has been granted access to the minor child by a court order. (c) In all cases in which probation is granted, the court shall, except in unusual cases where the interests of justice would best be served by a lesser penalty, require as a condition of the probation that the person be confined in the county jail for 12 months. If the court grants probation without requiring the defendant to be confined in the county jail for 12 months, it shall specify its reason or reasons for imposing a lesser penalty.")

29California Penal Code 236 PC -- False imprisonment.  ("False imprisonment defined. False imprisonment is the unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another.")

See also Penal Code 237 PC -- False imprisonment; punishment.  ("(a) False imprisonment is punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. If the false imprisonment be effected by violence, menace, fraud, or deceit, it shall be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison. (b) False imprisonment of an elder or dependent adult by use of violence, menace, fraud, or deceit shall be punishable as described in subdivision (f) of Section 368.")

30California Penal Code 646.9 -- Stalking. ("(a) Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison.

31California Education Code 44424 -- Conviction of crime; plea of nolo contendere; denial or termination of employment.  ("(a) Upon the conviction of the holder of any credential issued by the State Board of Education or the Commission on Teacher Credentialing of a violation, or attempted violation, of a violent or serious felony as described in Section 44346.1, or any one or more of Penal Code Sections 187 to 191, inclusive, 192 insofar as this section relates to voluntary manslaughter, 193, 194 to 217.1, inclusive, 220, 222, 244, 245, 261 to 267, inclusive, 273a, 273ab, 273d, 273f, 273g, 278, 285 to 288a, inclusive, 424, 425, 484 to 488, inclusive, insofar as these sections relate to felony convictions, 503 and 504, or of any offense involving lewd and lascivious conduct under Section 272 of the Penal Code [California's contributing to the delinquency of a minor law], or any offense committed or attempted in any other state or against the laws of the United States which, if committed or attempted in this state, would have been punished as one or more of the offenses specified in this section, becoming final, the commission shall forthwith revoke the credential. (b) Upon a plea of nolo contendere as a misdemeanor to one or more of the crimes set forth in subdivision (a), all credentials held by the respondent shall be suspended until a final disposition regarding those credentials is made by the commission. Any action that the commission is permitted to take following a conviction may be taken after the time for appeal has elapsed, or the judgment of conviction has been affirmed on appeal, or when an order granting probation is made suspending the imposition of sentence and the time for appeal has elapsed or the judgment of conviction has been affirmed on appeal, irrespective of a subsequent order under the provisions of Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code. (c) The commission shall revoke a credential issued to a person whose employment has been denied or terminated pursuant to Section 44830.1. (d) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a credential shall not be revoked solely on the basis that the applicant or holder has been convicted of a violent or serious felony if the person has obtained a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon pursuant to Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 4852.01) of Title 6 of Part 3 of the Penal Code.")

See also California Education Code 44435 -- Conviction of certain felonies as grounds for revocation by county board of education.  ("Upon the becoming final of the conviction of the holder of a certificate issued by a county board of education of a violation or attempted violation of any one or more of Penal Code Sections 187 to 191, 192 insofar as said section relates to voluntary manslaughter, 193, 194 to 232, inclusive, 244, 245, 261 to 267, inclusive, 273a, 273f, 273g, 278, 285 to 288a, both inclusive, 424, 425, 484 to 488, both inclusive, insofar as said sections relate to grand theft, 503 and 504, or of Penal Code Section 272 [California's contributing to the delinquency of a minor law], the county board of education shall forthwith revoke the certificate.")

32California Penal Code 290 PC -- Sex Offender Registration Act; lifetime duty to register within specified number of days following entrance into or moving within a jurisdiction; offenses requiring mandatory registration.  ("(a) Sections 290 to 290.023, inclusive, shall be known and may be cited as the Sex Offender Registration Act. All references to "the Act" in those sections are to the Sex Offender Registration Act. (b) Every person described in subdivision (c), for the rest of his or her life while residing in California, or while attending school or working in California, as described in Sections 290.002 and 290.01, shall be required to register with the chief of police of the city in which he or she is residing, or the sheriff of the county if he or she is residing in an unincorporated area or city that has no police department, and, additionally, with the chief of police of a campus of the University of California, the California State University, or community college if he or she is residing upon the campus or in any of its facilities, within five working days of coming into, or changing his or her residence within, any city, county, or city and county, or campus in which he or she temporarily resides, and shall be required to register thereafter in accordance with the Act. (c) The following persons shall be required to register: Any person who, since July 1, 1944, has been or is hereafter convicted in any court in this state or in any federal or military court of a violation of...any offense involving lewd or lascivious conduct under Section 272 [California's contributing to the delinquency of a minor law], or any felony violation of Section 288.2; any statutory predecessor that includes all elements of one of the above-mentioned offenses; or any person who since that date has been or is hereafter convicted of the attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above-mentioned offenses.")

33California Penal Code 288 PC -- Lewd acts with a child. ("("(a) Any person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, including any of the acts constituting other crimes provided for in Part 1, upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.")

34People v. Moody (1963) 216 Cal.App.2d 250, 253.  ("And while the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor is necessarily included in the crime of a violation of section 288, this does not mean that an instruction as to the included offense must be given in every case where one is charged with a violation of section 288. Whether such an instruction should be given will depend upon the evidence in the particular case.")

35California Penal Code 288.2 -- Harmful matter sent with the intent to seduce a minor. ("(a) Every person who, with knowledge that a person is a minor, or who fails to exercise reasonable care in ascertaining the true age of a minor, knowingly distributes, sends, causes to be sent, exhibits, or offers to distribute or exhibit by any means, including, but not limited to, live or recorded telephone messages, any harmful matter, as defined in [California Penal Code] Section 313 PC, to a minor with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of that person or of a minor, and with the intent or for the purpose of seducing a minor, is guilty of a public offense and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison or in a county jail...")

36Please feel free to contact our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense attorneys Michael Becker and Mike Castillo for any questions relating to Nevada's laws regarding contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Our Nevada law offices are located in Reno and Las Vegas.

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