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Are Parents Responsible for their Child’s Crimes?

Nov. 28, 2021

There are many things parents are responsible for when it comes to their minor children. They are responsible for delivering financial support, ensuring their education, providing food and shelter, and protecting them from danger. What many Florida parents do not know, however, is that they are also responsible for their child’s bad behavior. That can be quite a frightening and costly obligation.

If your minor child has committed an act for which you are legally liable, you should join the other parents in Clearwater, New Port Richey, Tampa, and St. Petersburg, Florida, who have put the criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Hoskins and Penton, P.A. to work for them. We understand the legal challenges you face, and we will fight to get you through them.

Is There a Parental Responsibility Law in Florida?

Florida statutes contain two laws that hold parents responsible for injuries and damage caused by their minor unemancipated children. Although this may seem unfair, the laws are designed to hold someone financially responsible for injuries and damage caused by the child’s reckless or negligent actions so victims can be compensated. Parents have a duty to exercise reasonable care in the supervision of their minor children to protect others from their actions.

In Florida, a child reaches the age of majority at 18. Therefore, parents are responsible for their actions until age 18. There is an exception if the child petitions the court and becomes an emancipated minor prior to their 18th birthday.

What Are Florida’s Parental Responsibility Laws?

There are two laws that hold parents responsible. One statute addresses injuries and damages caused by a child while operating a vehicle. The other addresses injuries and damages caused by vandalism or theft.

A parent or guardian in Florida must sign a minor’s driver’s license application, verify its content, and provide documentation of birth, citizenship, and immigration status. If the child causes injury or damage while operating a motor vehicle because they operate it with willful misconduct or negligence, the child and parent or guardian are financially responsible, jointly and separately, for damages. If the child injures someone, the victim may sue for economic damages, such as damage to their property, medical expenses, and lost income while unable to work. They can also sue for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.

If a minor destroys or steals property maliciously or intentionally, parents will be held financially responsible for the cost of the damage. Individuals, businesses, churches, schools, governments, and any other entity may hold them accountable for the damage they sustain.

How Can an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Help?

Generally, parents are held civilly liable for the damages caused by their child’s negligence rather than criminally liable. Criminal liability could attach if the child accessed and used a deadly weapon. As a parent, you are responsible for securing weapons to make them inaccessible to minors.

Even if you are being held civilly liable, you should consult a criminal defense attorney about protecting your legal rights. After all, you are being accused. You should defend yourself.

Criminal Defense Attorneys in Clearwater, Florida

At The Law Offices of Hoskins and Penton, P.A., we have a reputation for being aggressive litigators with experience on the other side of the courtroom, prosecuting people accused of crimes. That makes us uniquely qualified to defend our clients in and out of court.

If you are facing the ramifications of Florida’s parental responsibility laws and you live in Clearwater or in New Port Richey, Tampa, or St. Petersburg, call our office to schedule a case consultation.

So much is riding on the outcome for you and your child, so do not delay. Call now.