For years, individuals have studied why certain children commit crimes and not others. Recently, extensive scientific reports from various associations have submitted data that can better justify the contributing factors. Though each juvenile offense is the consequence of a complexity of causes—some of which date back to years before the crime was committed—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 Florida, the crime in question is dubbed “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” and is considered a first-degree misdemeanor with penalties that can include up to one year in jail, one year of probation, and a $1,000 fine. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is committed when an adult causes, encourages, or contributes to a minor becoming delinquent, dependent, or in need of services.
How Is Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor Defined in Florida?
The offense of contributing to child delinquency, which is outlined in section 827.04 of the Florida Statutes, is defined in the following terms:
“Any person who commits any act which causes, tends to cause, encourages, or contributes to a child becoming a delinquent or dependent child or a child in need of services; or induces or endeavors to induce, by act, threat, command, or persuasion, a child to commit or perform any act, follow any course of conduct, or live in a manner that causes or tends to cause such child to become or to remain a dependent or delinquent child or a child in need of services, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.”
In other words, to prove the crime of contributing to child delinquency in Florida, the prosecution must establish that you helped a child commit a “delinquent act,” which is considered one that would be criminal if committed by an adult under the statutes or ordinances of Florida.
Note that according to the law, a child is considered anyone under the age of 18. Likewise, a “child in need of services” is a minor who’s been found by the court to be a frequent runaway, repeatedly absent from school, or consistently unwilling to meet reasonable demands to remedy underlying issues.
Examples of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in practice are giving a minor illegal alcohol or drugs, allowing a minor to drink or do drugs at your house, engaging in sexual conduct with a minor, or persuading a minor to steal a car.
Defenses to Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor in Florida
In addition to the typical pre-trial defenses a lawyer might explore, such as a motion to suppress an unlawful arrest, a lawyer may also determine whether the following defenses may apply:
- Lack of knowledge that the defendant was contributing to the child’s delinquency
- Lack of causation (i.e., defendant’s actions didn’t cause the alleged delinquency)
- Factual disagreements
- False accusation
- Consent of the minor’s parents
- Mistake of age
If you’ve been arrested or charged with the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, it may be in your best interest to get in touch with an experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney as soon as possible for help organizing the most effective defense strategies based on the circumstances of your case.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in West Palm Beach
If you’re a legal guardian or parent of a child who committed a delinquent act and seeking legal assistance, you may have defenses available to contest the charge or minimize potential penalties. Consider getting in touch with Brian Gabriel, an experienced criminal defense attorney from the Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel. After meeting with you to discuss the incident in question, Brian Gabriel may be able to help determine the most effective strategy to execute based on the circumstances of your case.
Attorney Brian Gabriel has served the community of West Palm Beach for more than 30 years as a criminal defense attorney. He understands the complexities that are involved in these cases and can help protect your reputation and future. After an arrest, you can be assured that you’re in good hands and that Attorney Brian Gabriel will fight for your rights. Call (561) 622-5575 or complete a contact form for a free consultation.