What is the penalty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor?

Having been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor or CDM can be stressful and embarrassing. If you are ever convicted of this kind of offense, then you could be subjected to a long-term jail along with monetary penalties. A minor is anyone under the age of 18 as stated in most of the laws of the United States. 

While possession of alcohol or illegal drugs under the age of 18 is an act of juvenile delinquency and offering illicit products to minors would be referred to as an act of CDM in almost every state.

For the prevention of such crimes, Colorado was the first state to establish laws against CDM in 1903. After that, every state passed litigations to protect minors against such actions.

The act of contributing to the delinquency of a minor is essentially a criminal act that is executed by a minor which is usually resolved outside the criminal court. The prime explanation of the delinquency and the implied laws against it differ across states. In today’s article, we will look into crimes and penalties for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The basics of contributing to the delinquency of a minor

It is basically a criminal charge against someone who encourages minor(s) for bad or immoral conduct which results in the involvement of a minor in illegal or prohibited conduct. Most of the time, the offender would not think about the conduct or do not have the intentions to commit the illegal act which particularly should be the reason for his or her arrest.

However, the act that contains a CDM charge may differ with jurisdiction but some examples of the contributing to the delinquency of a minor include (but are not limited to):

  • Alcohol provided to a minor by an adult
  • When an adult encourages a minor to perform an illegal activity such as a parent encourages their children to shoplift.
  • A 16-year individual having an older significant pick up a child from the school against the wish of parents leads to missing school and running away with each other to perform illegal or prohibited activities.

One of the most common situations occurs when parents and adults provide and allow alcohol to teenagers at home. The parents might think that limiting their children from things they wish will make them rebel, however, it is against the alcohol possession state and federal laws.

Here’s another example of CDM. Suppose a group of teenagers went out to hang around. Some teenagers are over 18 and some are under. They may think in their consciousness that they all are teenagers hanging around together.

While they were hanging out, one of the older teenagers thought that it would be fun to bash mailboxes. He encourages the group and takes everyone along. However, they all are teenagers, but the one who encouraged everyone would be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor due to the age difference.

Important factors of CDM

In every state, it’s a crime to help a minor is committing a criminal act. However, the range of delinquency acts may differ but generally, they all are similar in scope.

Most states will charge an adult with a misdemeanor if he offers a teenager to buy a case of beer or host a late alcohol party. This usually happens in home settings where parents encourage their son to host or arrange parties, which is a crime. Depending on the certain situation, oftentimes states take the action under felony charges.

CDM elements usually include:

  • An adult (in some states, a minor) executed a criminal act or failed in committing the crime (regardless of intent)
  • This act (failed or successful) caused (or had the intensity to cause) a teenager/minor to become
  • A delinquent
  • A habitual truant
  • Or a dependent of the juvenile court.

Many times the state laws use the term ‘tending to cause delinquency’ which means a minor did not intend to perform delinquency but the adult would be charged for the crime.

For instance, if your 14-year-old son does not want to have the case of beer you brought, you would be then charged for contributing to the delinquency of a minor or CDM.

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor – The Charge

There may be endless reasons for which an adult can be charged for CDM. What constitutes a crime under the statute is the act after which a juvenile engaged in some illicit or criminal activity or immoral behavior.

Precisely, contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge requires the following conditions to satisfy;

  • The offender must be over 18 years of age
  • Must act knowing the consequences and to execute a purpose
  • Essentially, he must encourage, help or cause or perform any action that influences a minor to involve in a prohibited act
  • Adult’s action must encourage a minor to perform one of the following:
  • Breach a law or violate the municipal ordinance
  • Become habitually truant (miss school too much)
  • Be ungovernable or incorrigible or disobedient
  • Engage in immoral activities or persons
  • Visit illegal places frequently
  • Associate with a profession that is against the law (such as selling drugs or prostitution)
  • Habitually use offensive language
  • Beg normally in public places asking for money
  • Be the cause to injure or endanger willfully his health or endanger or injure the health of another person.

The last part ‘willfully injure or endanger his health or endanger or injure the health of another person refers to a very broad legal language. Someone can be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor just because of this language.

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor – Penalties

Although the reasons for contributing to the delinquency of a minor act and penalties differ across states, in South Carolina CDM is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. Someone convicted with CDM will get up to three years in jail or a fine of $3,000 or both.

Depending on the crime and of course the discretion of the judge, the final say will lie under judicial verdict.

Whatever the verdict will be, your attorney’s mitigation will play an important role while you have a CDM charge. Your attorney will mitigate the bad and highlight the good aspect behind the act. A lot of times people with good intentions result in CDM charges, as the whole scenario is confusing or you couldn’t express it the right way to the attorney/court. Other times, it may be the reason for minor trafficking. Whatever be the reason, having an attorney who will be able to investigate the facts and use them according to the legal requirements is always recommended and necessary.

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor – Exceptions

Although it’s a crime to provide a minor with alcohol in many states, it’s not always a crime in more or less 40 states. But why this is not, the exception is defined narrowly. The exceptions described below may become the reason for valid defenses for someone with CDM charges;

  • Providing alcohol in private premises – For instance, offering a teenager a glass of wine at the dinner table is legal in 29 states until it is taken under parental consent.
  • Providing alcohol in private premises but without parental consent – In six states including New Jersey and Louisiana, the law allows a teenager to have a glass of wine when home alone
  • Medical Purpose – Medications and tinctures may include alcohol which is allowed in 16 states including Washington and Arizona
  • Religious Reasons – The commonest example of drinking a sip of alcohol for a ceremonial purpose at a church (25 states including Illinois and Colorado)
  • Government-related work – This type of exception may involve the government-related research work undercover (4 states including Oregon and Michigan).
  • Attend premises selling alcohol with parental consent – For instance, a teenager having alcohol at a restaurant with her parents (eleven states including Nevada and Massachusetts).
  • Educational purpose – An exception while learning cooking and other recipes at a culinary school. (7 states including Vermont and North Carolina)

Defending against contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge

The best way to defend yourself from CDM charges is to retain the services of a skillful and knowledgeable defense attorney. When you hire a criminal defense attorney, he will work in investigating the accusations and state laws regarding your charge and make a strong defense of your case.

Here are some arguments that someone raises while facing CDM charges:

False allegations – It commonly happens when someone is wrongly accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge. Oftentimes it happens when a married couple is separating. Divorce or an acrimonious relationship can put you sometimes under CDM charges. However, an experienced attorney will investigate using witnesses and past recordings and compile evidence to show the truth behind the reasons which might show you are dishonest.

No delinquent behavior – It is important to note the distinction between being ‘lazy’ or contributing to delinquency. For instance, if you let your children watch TV all day you are not contributing to leading the act of developing some immoral behaviors. But if you are arrested by the police based on state statutes believing that your lack of supervision caused the minor to contribute to violations, then your attorney can help prove that you did not intend such things.

You are legally protected – As the minor laws are prone to protecting minors. The authorities may over-zealously arrest you just because on the surface you are contributing to CDM but you are using your rights. For instance, in Nevada, it is legal for a parent to send their children to their room as a punishment and not allow them to participate in certain activities. If you are arrested for any of these situations, then your attorney would present the case more diligently that you were using your rights.

Before things get out of your hands, you should take action while knowing your rights so they will be better protected.

Recent Posts