Michigan parents may face consequences for a child’s criminal charges

Laws in many states dictate that if a child is charged with a crime, the parents may be held liable for damages.

When a child has been accused of a crime or arrested in Michigan, it is often a stressful and frightening time for the parents. They will likely be wondering if they could be held accountable for their child's wrongdoing, and what they can do to help their child overcome this challenge.

Parental responsibility for juvenile crime in Michigan

Many states have enacted laws that detail the responsibility of the parents after an underage child has committed a crime, states the National Crime Prevention Council. In some areas, and depending on the circumstances, parents may be arrested after a child repeatedly breaks the law.

According to the Michigan Legislature, parents may be required to pay damages up to $2,500 when an unemancipated minor child living with the parents commits a crime. This would include the willful or malicious destruction of personal or private property, or intentional bodily injury to another person.

Additionally, parents may face criminal charges if a minor causes harm after using a gun that has been unlawfully stored, according to the Michigan Department of State Police.

Possible advantages and disadvantages of holding parents responsible

Some say that if parents are held responsible for their children's actions, there is a better chance of the parents becoming actively involved in enforcing positive behavior. However, others believe that it is unfair to hold parents accountable for juvenile criminal activity in incidents that occurred when the child was not under parental supervision. For example, some parents believe that they are not responsible for their child's actions if their child gets into a fight at school or commits acts of vandalism or theft with friends, such as spray-painting graffiti or shoplifting.

An online poll appears to reflect the views of others on the subject. NJ.com states that after a teenage boy strangled a 15-year-old girl, the girl's father sued the boy's parents. He accused them of being negligent in raising their son and in preventing him from committing violent acts of which they knew he was capable. The poll results indicate that over 71 percent of respondents support laws to hold parents responsible for the juvenile offenders in incidents of violent crime.

Waterford teens charged in murder-for-hire plot

Recently, two teenage girls from Waterford were accused of solicitation to commit murder and conspiracy to commit murder, after they allegedly paid an undercover officer - posing as a hit man - to kill someone. According to the Oakland Press, the girls face life in prison. One of the girls had been in trouble repeatedly throughout her teenage years, including assaulting a 14-year-old girl, being placed in the custody of Juvenile Court, and being ordered to attend a rehabilitation program for at-risk youth. Under Michigan law, the girl's parents may have been held liable for damages resulting from their daughter's attack on the other girl. (As of this writing, it is not yet known whether these consequences will be carried out.)

If your child has been arrested for property damage or violence, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights as well as those of your child.

Keywords: juvenile, crime, charges