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Are Parents Responsible for Their Child's Crimes?

McBride Law  Sept. 21, 2022

Gavel,  small wooden figurines of husband, wife and kid on judge's table.If a minor commits a crime, the parent likely becomes scared for their child. A million thoughts can pass through their minds, such as what that child’s future will look like, what repercussions will the crime cause, the mental health of the child and those around them, and more. They also may be wondering if they, as the parent, hold any legal responsibility for the crime committed. If you have experienced anything like this, just know that you are not alone.  

Massachusetts laws allow minors – persons below 18 years – who commit a crime to be arrested and charged as juvenile delinquents. In addition, the child's parent or guardian may be held civilly responsible for their child's willful acts, which cause injury or death to another person or property damages. A knowledgeable Massachusetts criminal defense attorney can enlighten you about your parental liability and the potential consequences of your child's unlawful actions. 

McBride Law is dedicated to offering detailed legal guidance and reliable representation to parents facing criminal charges for their children's actions. Attorney Devin McBride can investigate the surrounding details of your case and enlighten you about your rights, options, and parental liability. Also, he will strategize a strong legal defense to help fight your charges. 

As your legal counsel, Attorney Devin McBride will strive to dispute the accusations against you with substantial facts and evidence, and he will work diligently to protect you and your child's best interests. McBride Law is proud to represent clients in Quincy, Massachusetts, and the surrounding communities of Norwell, Boston, Weymouth, Hingham, and other areas across the state. 

Parental Responsibility Laws  

As a parent or legal guardian, you have numerous duties and legal responsibilities over your child or ward. Parental responsibility laws in Massachusetts are designed to hold parents civilly liable for injuries, property damages, and loss of life caused by the willful actions committed by their children. 

To Whom Do They Apply? 

According to Massachusetts laws, the state's parental responsibility statutes and rules apply to: 

  • The minor child’s parent or parents. 

  • The parent whom the minor lives with (custodial parent or parent with physical custody). 

  • The legal guardian. 

However, the parent who doesn't have custody of the child at the time the offense was committed due to a legal decree will not face any liability. An experienced attorney can help you understand the details of Massachusetts' parental responsibility laws and determine the best defenses to fight your charges. 

Massachusetts' Parental Responsibility Law  

Massachusetts has a parental responsibility law. This law states that a child’s (between the ages of 7-17) parent is responsible for their child’s crime if the crime results in someone else’s injury or death, property damage from larceny or attempted larceny, damage to cemetery property, or property of the state, county, or municipal.  

Willful or Malicious Conduct 

A willful or malicious act involves any action, conduct, or behavior that a person exhibits without just reason. If a child's willful or malicious action causes injury or death to another person or damages to personal property, the child's parents (excluding the non-custodial parent) or legal guardian shall be held financially liable for their child's willful or malicious actions. 

Possible Damages 

According to Massachusetts law, the amount of damages that may be recovered by the claimant shall not exceed $5,000. However, to recover damages, the injured person or property owner must establish that the child acted maliciously, without any reasonable cause, and intended to injure the person or damage the property. 

Possible Parental Consequences 

In addition to the parental liability, the parent may also face other penalties and consequences for failing in their parental responsibilities – to control or monitor their child. These include: 

  • Prison sentence 

  • Fines  

  • Mandatory parenting classes 

An experienced attorney can fight vigorously to protect your best interests and make sure you or your child do not suffer the devastating consequences of a criminal conviction. 

Get the Skilled Legal Advocacy You Need 

Even though legal guardians or parents may not be held criminally responsible for their child's illegal acts. Nonetheless, they may be sued in civil court for injuries, death, and property damages caused by their child's willful conduct. Therefore, if you and your child are under investigation or if you are facing criminal charges for your child's actions, hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney is paramount for detailed guidance and to help protect your rights. 

Attorney Devin McBride has the diligence, resources, and expertise to guide and represent parents in complex cases involving parental liability. With his in-depth understanding of Massachusetts parental responsibility laws, Attorney Devin McBride can help you navigate the state's criminal justice system and represent you intelligently in every phase of the legal process. Above all, he will fight vigorously to uphold you and your child's legal rights, strive to refute the charges against you with factual evidence, and help guide you to keep your record as clean as possible. 

Contact McBride Law today to schedule a simple case assessment with a dependable criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Devin McBride can offer you the highly-personalized legal counsel, advocacy, and skilled representation you need in your case. The firm proudly represents clients in Quincy, Norwell, Weymouth, Boston, Hingham, and surrounding areas throughout the state of Massachusetts.