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Childhood is a time for growing and making mistakes. As part of the growing process, young people of varying ages will often experiment with seeing how far they can push boundaries and rebel against authority. The consequences of this experimentation typically lead to groundings, suspension, and loss of certain privileges.
When kids make the mistake of getting involved in illegal activities, the penalties can be far more severe and extend beyond the child. Children committing crimes is not unheard of, as thousands of children are convicted of crimes every year. What many people don’t know is that parents and guardians of children who have committed crimes can also be legally held accountable for their child’s criminal activity due to California’s Parental Responsibility Laws.
What Are California’s Parental Responsibility Laws?
Like many other states, California has enacted several parental responsibility statutes that could hold parents and legal guardians liable when a minor hurts someone or causes damage to property. These laws are often referred to as Parental Responsibility Laws. They can subject parents to civil liability for, among other things, the general misbehavior of their children and any car accidents the children cause.
California Civil Code 1714.1 outlines parental liability for a minor’s willful misconduct in California. According to this law, any act of a juvenile’s willful misconduct that causes another person harm, death, or damage to their property will be ascribed to the parent or guardian having custody and authority of the minor for civil damages.
Under this statute, the custodial parent or guardian is jointly accountable with the juvenile for any damages brought on by their willful misbehavior. These damages are capped at a maximum of $25,000 per wrongdoing.
California’s Parental Liability for Minor Driving Laws
A parent or guardian is jointly liable for any losses stemming from the accident under California’s driving-related statutes. This liability also covers compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering. Two key California statutes address a parent or legal guardian’s possible liability for harm brought on by a driver who is a minor.
According to California Vehicle Code section 17707, the person who signed and confirmed the minor’s license application is responsible for any civil liability related to the minor’s motor vehicle use. This individual will be held jointly and severally accountable with the minor for any damages directly caused by the minor’s negligent or unlawful act or omission while operating a motor vehicle.
Section 17707 essentially outlines the guardian’s civil liability if the child causes an automobile accident. In California, a minor must have their parent or legal guardian sign their application for a driver’s license. The succeeding statute, California Vehicle Code section 17708, holds a guardian potentially liable for all foreseeable damages following a car accident under certain circumstances. Whether or not a minor is a licensed driver, when a guardian permits a juvenile to operate a vehicle explicitly or implicitly, and the minor causes an accident, the guardian is responsible.
Parental Liability and California Common Law
In California, there are many circumstances where parental liability may occur that are not addressed by the statutes discussed here. Under traditional civil fault rules known as common law, parents and legal guardians may also be held legally liable for a minor’s behavior.
When a parent is aware that their child has a dangerous predisposition and fails to take reasonable steps to supervise them, they could be deemed negligent if someone experiences a foreseeable injury due to the child’s conduct.
Get Legal Help From an Experienced California Criminal Defense Lawyer
Being accused of breaking a parental responsibility statute is a serious offense that could result in jail time, a fine, and training. Depending on your child’s charges, you and your child may want to obtain legal counsel.
In this challenging time, Attorney Dod will stand by your side and fight for you and your child every step of the way as an experienced California criminal defense lawyer. Dod Law, APC has developed successful criminal defense tactics that have assisted our clients in overcoming numerous criminal charges. We make every effort to protect your rights so that neither you nor your child suffers the consequences of criminal accusations. Call us at (619) 814-5110 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.