Can Parents Be Charged For The Actions Of Their Kids?


Many kids go through rebellious times, and as a parent it can be stressful and hard enough to see your child struggle. If they end up getting in trouble with the law, parents in California now have an additional concern and reason to worry: can parents actually be charged for the actions of their kids? In the State of California – yes.

California’s “parental responsibility law” can impose criminal charges and penalties on a parent for the criminal actions of their children. Additionally, California parents can also be held liable in civil court for damage or harm caused by their children.

Which California laws can hold parents liable for the actions of their children?

California parents won’t be charged with the same criminal charges of their children, however, they can be held responsible when their children commit crimes.

California Penal Code Section 272(a)(2) states that a parent (or legal guardian) of a minor under the age of 18 years old has “a duty to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection and control over their minor child.” But what does this mean for you and your family? This means that if the California courts determine that you reasonably should have known that your child was acting in a delinquent manner, or likely to act in a delinquent manner, and you failed to take any action to discipline your child or otherwise supervise or control them, you may be charged for the failure to exercise “reasonable care” or “control” over your child.

California Penal Code Section 270 addresses school truancy, and provides that a parent may be charged with a misdemeanor if their child is a “chronic truant” which occurs when a child is absent (without a valid excuse) for more than 10% of the schooldays in any one school year. A conviction under this section of the penal code can send a parent to jail for up to a year and hit them with a fine of up to $2,000. Many courts will allow parents to avoid fines and/or jail by participating in parenting classes, counseling or other programs; however, this is not guaranteed, which is why it’s extremely important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you believe that your child may be a chronic truant, or if you have been warned by your child’s school or local law enforcement that they are a chronic truant.

If your child has been questioned by the police for suspected criminal activity, if they are skipping school on a regular basis or if you have any other reason to believe that you may be at risk of facing criminal or civil charges based on the actions of your minor child, call the Kosnett Law Firm today at (310) 751-0446, or visit us online to learn more about your rights under the law.

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