It has long been a question why some children commit crimes and not others. But in recent years, extensive scientific studies from child welfare associations, education bodies, and mental hygiene clinics have brought forth data that can better explain the contributing factors. Though each juvenile offense is the outcome of a complexity of causes, it’s often the influence of a parent or guardian that inspires acts of delinquency. When this is the case, you may wonder whether the parent is legally at fault.
In Louisiana, actions taken to convince or induce someone to commit a crime are taken very seriously, especially when there’s a child involved. In fact, if the state deems that the parent or guardian is responsible for persuading or helping their child commit acts of juvenile delinquency, they can be punished with a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to six months. If you think you may be caught in the middle of your child’s delinquency case, consider calling a lawyer who may be able to help you minimize or eliminate the consequences.
What Is Juvenile Delinquency?
Juvenile delinquency is a term used to describe illegal actions committed by a minor. This term is broad in range and can include anything from minor violations to more severe crimes.
Though the specifics of the term vary state-by-state, the Louisiana Department of Juvenile Justice calls a “delinquent act” one that’s committed by a child ten years of age or older which, if committed by an adult, would be considered criminal under the statutes or ordinances in Louisiana, with the exception of certain traffic offenses.
Improper supervision that leads your child to commit a delinquent act could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to six months.
How Can It Be Deemed That You Contributed to Child Delinquency in Louisiana?
According to Section 14:92.1 of the Louisiana Statutes, anyone who is above the age of 17 who persuades or encourages a child under the age of 17 to behave or live in a manner that makes that child a delinquent is guilty of contributing to child delinquency. This most often applies to the parent, legal guardian, or any person having the custody of the child, but can also affect “any other person or persons who shall by any act encourage, cause, or contribute to the dependency or delinquency of such child,” and can include consciously or intentionally aiding, enticing, soliciting, or permitting delinquency.
The statute states that contributing to your child’s delinquency can include:
- Any act which tends to debase or injure the morals, health, or welfare of a child
- Drinking beverages of low or high alcoholic content
- Using narcotics
- Going into or remaining in any gathering place where prostitutes, gamblers, or thieves are permitted to enter and ply their trade
- Associating with thieves and immoral people
- Enticing a minor to leave home or to leave the custody of their parents or guardians without first receiving the consent of the parent or guardian
- Begging, singing, or selling any article
- Playing any musical instrument in any public place for the purpose of receiving money
- Using any vile, obscene, or indecent language
- Performing any sexually immoral act
How Can You Defend Against Charges Stating That You Contributed to Child Delinquency?
To prove that a parent is guilty of the offense of contributing to child delinquency, the prosecution must establish one of the following:
- The parent or guardian intentionally and knowingly encouraged the child to become or remain a delinquent
- The parent or guardian acted upon threat or command to make the child perform their bidding and, in the process, caused the child to become a delinquent or remain a delinquent
While the statute states that lack of knowledge of the juvenile’s age is not a valid defense, there are a number of other valid legal defenses against contributing to child delinquency that you and your lawyer can discuss.
To prove that one is guilty of the offense, it should be clear that the offense was highly intentional and done knowingly. In this case, a complete defense to the charge could be a lack of knowledge. Lack of causation may serve as another defense if the accused’s actions did not actually induce or cause the alleged delinquency. There may also be factual disagreements that the defendant’s conduct would not be classified as delinquent.
In any case, reaching out to a trusted defense lawyer who knows how to protect clients against child delinquency charges in Louisiana would be in your best interest.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Louisiana
If you’re a parent or legal guardian of a child who committed a delinquent act and think you may be at fault, you may have defenses available to contest the charge or to minimize potential penalties. Consider contacting the expert lawyers at The John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm for a free consultation. We’ll launch a legal investigation into your child’s case and the circumstances leading up to your arrest in order to present the strongest possible argument in court.
With over 25 years of experience, Attorney Eric Johnson knows how to devise a successful defense strategy for clients in your position. Eric is a problem solver who’s committed to thoroughly investigating your case and devising a successful defense strategy. To schedule a free consultation, call (318) 377-1555 or complete our online contact form.