Parents or legal guardians of individuals under 18 years of age are legally responsible for exercising “reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control” over the minor in their care, according to California Penal Code 272. Failure to fulfill this duty can lead to charges for violating PC 272, contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Further, any adults who commit acts prompting minors to delinquency, or who fail to perform actions to protect the welfare of a minor can face the same charges.
Should you face charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, secure an expert legal defense from a Los Angeles DUI Attorney right away.
What “Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor” Means
If you are of adult age and either cause or enable a minor to participate in illegal behaviors, be a habitual truant, or become a dependent of the California juvenile court system, you have contributed to that minor’s delinquency.
Minors who refuse to follow reasonable rules established by parents or guardians, violate a curfew, or incur more than four unexcused absences from school are considered habitual truants.
Juveniles become dependent on the juvenile court system when the court must intervene in the minor’s life and take over the role of guardian.
Actions and Failures to Act Can Lead to Charges
You can violate PC §272 through your actions. For example, if you tell a minor to shoplift, encourage their engagement in unlawful sexual activity, or have them serve as a lookout during a burglary, you are guilty of violating the statute.
You can also violate the law through a lack of action. Parents who fail to establish reasonable rules of behavior, such as requiring the child to attend school, or are unable to control their minor child and stop them from committing wrongful acts, may also face charges.
How a Minor Becomes a Dependent of the Juvenile Court System
Juveniles often become dependents of the court system when child protective services determines the minor should be removed from their home. This removal can be prompted by
- Physical or Sexual abuse
- Emotional mistreatment
- Other acts of cruelty
Minors abandoned or left without means of support will also become dependents.
Proving Violations of PC 272
To win a conviction, prosecutors must prove these elements of your alleged crime:
- You committed an act or failed to fulfill a duty
- Your action, or failure to fulfill your duty, caused or contributed to a minor becoming or remaining a delinquent, habitual truant, or dependent of the court
The prosecution must also prove you acted with general criminal intent or criminal negligence through your actions or failures to act.
- Acting with general criminal intent means you intentionally committed a criminal act or intentionally failed to fulfill a legal duty.
- Acting with criminal negligence means you acted recklessly, creating an increased risk of death or great bodily injury a reasonable person would have recognized.
Consequences of PC 272 Convictions
Violating this statute is a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, you can face up to one year in county jail and/or a maximum $2500 fine. Judges have the option to put you on misdemeanor probation instead of requiring jail time.
Misdemeanor probation is also called “summary” or “informal” probation. It allows convicted, low-risk offenders to serve sentences while under court supervision and without experiencing jail time.
If they do not comply with all conditions of their probation for its entire duration, offenders may have to serve the rest of their sentences in custody. Conditions may include attending counseling sessions, performing community service, or wearing an electronic monitor, among other options.
It is possible to have your conviction expunged under PC §1203.4. Under this statute, you can withdraw a guilty or “no contest” plea, re-enter a not-guilty plea, and have the case dismissed. Once the court grants the expungement, you are free from the negative consequences of a conviction.
To be eligible for an expungement, you must complete your jail sentence and/or all conditions of your probation.
Defenses to the Charge of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
After reviewing your case thoroughly, your defense attorney will determine the appropriate defense, gather evidence, and argue to have your charges and penalties reduced or dismissed. Your attorney will also ensure you are treated justly by the court system.
Though no two cases are exactly the same, it is likely your lawyer may mount one of the following defenses on your behalf.
You Did Not Know the Person Was a Minor
This defense would not work for parents or legal guardians. However, if you associated with a person and encouraged them to commit a wrongful act and can prove you did not know they were under 18 years of age, you may avoid conviction. For example, the minor may have lied about their age and even provided false identification as evidence.
You Could Not Reasonably Control the Minor
Parents are legally obligated to have reasonable control and provide reasonable care for their minor children. Sometimes, minors simply refuse to comply with their guardians’ reasonable rules and boundaries. Your lawyer can provide evidence to show you cared for the minor and took reasonable measures to control them, but despite your efforts, the child would not obey.
You Have Been Falsely Accused
Regrettably, both minors and other adults make false accusations. Minors may make up stories of abuse or neglect out of anger over perceived “unfair” rules, a desire for revenge, or to get attention. An ex-partner may make similar accusations to gain an advantage in custody cases.
Whatever the reason for the false accusation, your lawyer will work to prove its baselessness.
You Have Rights, so Take Measures to Protect Them
Do not face your accusers and prosecutors on your own or with an inexperienced or inferior legal defender. Instead, secure expert legal representation from a Los Angeles DUI Attorney. You need a lawyer committed to protecting your rights, building you the strongest defense possible, and mitigating your charges and penalties.