Can I be prosecuted for my child’s delinquency?
The Louisiana Children’s Code allows juvenile courts to exercise jurisdiction over the adult parents or guardians of a juvenile when that juvenile is subject to delinquency, traffic, and several other proceedings in juvenile court. It allows for the juvenile court to place restrictions on the parents of a juvenile to ensure compliance with the court’s orders regarding the delinquency or care of the minor child. Louisiana Children’s Code Article establishes that juvenile courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction over adults charged with: contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile in violation of La. R.S. 14:92.1, criminal neglect of family, and improper supervision of a minor by a parent or legal guardian in violation of La. R.S. 14:92.2.
La. R.S. 14:92.1 & 92.2 allow for criminal penalties against the parents or guardians of minors who have engaged in delinquent behavior or been improperly supervised by their parents or guardians. The penalties for these offenses are misdemeanors, but each carries the risk of jail time and/or a fine.
La R.S. 14:92.1 allows for the court to impose a fine of not more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment for not more than 6 months on the parent or guardian “in all cases where any child shall be a delinquent, dependent, or neglected child” if that parent or guardian “shall by any act encourage, cause, or contribute to the dependency or delinquency of such child, or who acts in conjunction with such child in the acts which cause such child to be dependent or delinquent.” (La. R.S. 14:92.1A(1)). Delinquency is defined as any of the following:
- any act which tends to debase or injure the morals, health or welfare of a child;
- drinking beverages of low alcoholic content or beverages of high alcoholic content;
- the use of narcotics;
- “going into or remaining in any bawdy house, assignation house, disorderly house or road house, hotel, public dance hall, or other gathering place where prostitutes, gamblers or thieves are permitted to enter and ply their trade;”
- associating with thieves and immoral persons;
- enticing a minor to leave home or to leave the custody of its parents, guardians or persons standing in lieu thereof, without first receiving the consent of the parent, guardian, or other person;
- begging, singing, selling any article;
- playing any musical instrument in any public place for the purpose of receiving alms;
- habitually trespassing where it is recognized he has no right to be;
- using any vile, obscene, or indecent language; or
- performing any sexually immoral act; or violating any law of the state ordinance of any village, town, city, or parish of the state.”
La. R.S. 14:92.1B.
La. R.S. 14:92.2 prohibits the “improper supervision of a minor by a parent or legal custodian” and establishes a wide range of penalties depending on the circumstances, including a fine as low as $25 or as high as $1,000 and/or imprisonment up to 6 months. Improper supervision includes:
- through criminal negligence, permitting the minor to associate with a person known by the parent or custodian:
- to be a member of a known criminal street gang;
- to have been convicted of a felony offense;
- to be a known user or distributor of drugs; or
- to be a person who possesses or has access to an illegal firearm, weapon, or explosive.
- through criminal negligence, the permitting of the minor:
- to enter premises known by the parent or custodian to be a place where sexually indecent activities or prostitution is practiced;
- to violate a local or municipal curfew ordinance;
- to habitually be absent or tardy from school […] without valid excuse;
- to enter the premises known by the parent or legal custodian as a place of illegal drug use or distribution activity;
- to enter the premises known by the parent or legal custodian as a place of underage drinking or gambling; or
- to enter the premises known by the parent or legal custodian as a place which stores or has a person present who possesses an illegal firearm, weapon, or explosive.
La R.S. 14:92.2.
If you or someone you know have concerns about criminal consequences for a child’s behavior, call us at (318) 459-9111 to set up a consult.