When you have a child, you’re taking on a major responsibility. You need to raise them correctly, so that they don’t harm others or violate laws. You want to raise them to have good moral standards and to be kind.
Unfortunately, some kids do go through phases where they get into trouble with the law. In those cases, you might think it’s only your child who has to face the consequences, but the reality may be that you’re held responsible as well.
Understand the basics of parental liability
Parental liability is the idea that parents are going to be held liable for any damages caused by their children, whether those are caused through criminal, intentional or unintentional acts. A parent won’t always be liable, though. Liability generally starts when their children are old enough to understand right from wrong, around 8 to 10 years old, and ends once their child reaches the age of majority.
Can parents be held criminally liable for crimes their children commit?
This is something you’ll want to speak with your attorney about, but there is the idea that parents could be held liable for their children’s criminal actions in criminal court. There are laws that prohibit contributing to a minor’s delinquency, so if a law was violated by helping a child commit a crime, then a parent could be facing criminal charges, too.
Here’s an example. If mom and dad think it’s safe for their child to drink a few glasses of alcohol with dinner but don’t stop them from driving drunk and causing an accident, then they could be held both criminally and civilly liable for the damages caused.
When can parents stop worrying about being liable for their children’s actions?
Once your child reaches the age of majority, they’re generally seen as their own person with no one else responsible for them. Usually, once your child turns 18, you don’t have to worry about liability. However, some states have higher ages of majority. It’s important to know exactly where your child got into trouble and the laws of that state, so that you can protect yourself and help protect them throughout the criminal process.
Overall, parents do have to worry about being held civilly liable for damages their children cause, and they could be held criminally liable as well. It’s typically in your best interests to work with an attorney if your child violates the law.