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Every parent who has spent more than nine minutes with their child has had to correct their behavior, whether to protect that child or others. And that never really changes. But what if their bad actions cross over into illegal behavior? How do you reconcile the desire to protect them with not wanting to condone a crime? Below are some ideas to keep in mind as you grapple with what to do if your child commits a crime.
Finding out your child has committed a crime can be a tough blow, and many parents will be relieved to hear that generally, there is no duty to report crime. However, there are situations where your silence could be construed as complicity or worse, and you must report crimes where your child is the victim (such as with sexual or physical abuse) or if you are a mandatory reporter.
Additionally, even if you don't report a crime to authorities, you may need to take other types of action. For example, if he or she is addicted to drugs or alcohol, there are many treatment options available which should be utilized before your child has an overdose or hurts someone while driving under the influence.
Parents should also know that there are many instances where they can be held liable -- criminally or civilly -- for the actions of their children. For example, if you know about the crime before or after the fact, and you help conceal the crime or its perpetrators, you could be charged with aiding and abetting, or as an accessory. Other situations where you could be held responsible for your child's crime include the following:
Not all crimes are created equal. Finding out your child stole a candy bar is not quite on the same level as discovering a serious drug problem or involvement in murder. But failing to impose consequences for shoplifting or bullying arguably sets them up for worse behavior later on. That's why some parents choose to take action, whether their child is 50 or 15.
If you or your child has been accused of a crime, it's vital to contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and advise you on the best course of action going forward.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.