As a parent in San Bernardino County, California, it's bad enough if your child gets in trouble with the law and is facing California criminal charges. It can get even worse, however, as parents themselves can be convicted of crimes for their kids' misdeeds.
California has a “parental responsibility law” that can impose criminal penalties on parents for their child's delinquent conduct. Additionally, parents can face potential civil liability for any injuries, harm, or damage caused by their child's act
Parents aren't charged with the crime or act that the child commits. Rather, parents can be prosecuted for their failure to supervise or control their child which results in the child being able to engage in the behavior in the first place.
Two California criminal charges parents can face for their child's criminal offenses or wrongful actions are:
- Failure to Supervise or Control. California Penal Code 272(a)(2) states that a parent or legal guardian of anyone under the age of 18 years has “a duty to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control over their minor child.”
The California Supreme Court has said that the duty of “supervision and control” under Section 272(a)(2) means “the duty of reasonable restraint of, and discipline for, a child's delinquent acts by parents who know or should know that their child is at risk of delinquency and that they are able to control the child.” Williams v. Garcetti, 853 P.2d 507 (1993).
If a child commits a delinquent act and the parents are found to have failed to exercise supervision and control of their child, they can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and face fines of up to $2,500 and/or up to a year in a county jail, though a parent may be able to have the charges dismissed by seeking education, treatment, or rehabilitation under a Parental Diversion Program.
- Truancy. Under California Penal Code Section 270.1, a parent or guardian of a pupil of six years of age or more who is in kindergarten through eighth grade can be convicted of a misdemeanor if their child is a “chronic truant” and they are found to have “failed to reasonably supervise and encourage the pupil's school attendance.”
A “chronic truant” is defined in Section 48263.6 of California's Education Code as a child “absent from school without a valid excuse for 10 percent or more of the schooldays in one school year.”
A parent convicted under Penal Code Section 270.1 can face a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to a year in a county jail, though they often are given the opportunity to participate in a deferred entry of judgment program consisting of counseling, parenting education, and other programs in lieu of jail time or fines.
If your child has been involved in juvenile delinquency in San Bernardino County, California, or if you are facing charges for an act of your child, please give our experienced San Bernardino County, California criminal defense attorneys a call to discuss your situation and learn about your options.