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Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor – What Does It Mean?

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a punishable crime committed by an adult who commits an act, or fails to perform a duty, that encourages a minor to become a dependent of the juvenile court, a delinquent, or a habitual truant.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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Examples of Contributing to a Minor

Adults may commit the criminal offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor when they commit some act or fail to act in a certain way, and this action or inaction makes a child more prone to engage in illegal activities. Examples include:

  • Allowing your minor son or daughter to stay out after curfew and get arrested for a drinking-related offense
  • Letting a minor neighbor use a spare bedroom to have sex with her boyfriend
  • Furnishing alcohol to a child

What Is the Penalty for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor?

Depending on the state where the offense took place, contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a misdemeanor that can be punishable by up to a year in jail, a substantial court fine, and other conditions of probation such as mandatory parenting classes or counseling sessions.

Furthermore, a conviction for contributing to the delinquency of a minor can result in numerous collateral consequences which can threaten careers. A conviction can jeopardize teaching credentials and other professional licenses for teachers or others involved in education.

Related Article: Difference Between a Tort and Criminal Law

Criminal Defense for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

Common defenses for those accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor include:

  • The defendant was falsely accused - In some cases, crimes against a person involving children are caused by a mistaken person or as revenge by an ex or angry child who accuses someone of a crime they didn’t commit. These charges will be investigated by your law firm and found to be baseless and unfounded. Once this occurs, your lawyer will prove in court that the charges should be dismissed.
  • There was no delinquency - Not all lazy or bad parents are guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. For example, feeding your child unhealthy or “junk” food is not a crime, because you are still feeding them and they are not going hungry. Similarly, letting your child watch TV all day is not a crime - just because another person may not like the way a child is being raised doesn’t mean it’s a crime. In many cases like these, there is a rush to judgment and people are arrested in error.
  • The defendant’s behavior was legally protected - Crimes against children cause many law enforcement officials to be overzealous in arresting people who they think are contributing to the delinquency of a minor. However, in many cases, adult behavior is legally protected. For example, parents in most states can reasonably punish their children by sending them to their rooms and not letting them participate in certain activities.

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