Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor - California Penal Code Section 272
Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is covered under California Penal Code Section 272. This law criminalizes helping someone under 18 years old to commit a felonious act. In other words, it’s designed to prevent people from causing or allowing minors to participate in criminal behavior. It’s a crime for an adult to induce or entice a minor to break the law. This means you can be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor if you encourage a minor to commit a crime. For example, if you encourage a minor to commit shoplifting, engage in sexual activity, or furnish them alcohol, you could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. This criminal offense occurs when someone acts, or even fails to act, resulting in a minor to become a dependent of the California juvenile court system, juvenile delinquent, or habitual truant. A dependent child is a minor from an unfit home, lacks proper supervision from parents, dangerous to the public, or victims of physical or sexual abuse. A delinquent child is a minor who violates the law by committing a criminal offense. Additionally, under closely related California Penal Code Section 272(b), it’s a crime for an adult to contact a minor under 14 years old, to lure them away from their parents. This applies to adults who are considered strangers with no pre-existing relationship with the minor. A violation of PC 272, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, is a misdemeanor offense under California law. A violation of PC 272(b), luring a child away from their parents, could be charged as a misdemeanor offense or as an infraction. In Los Angeles County, a very common example includes a situation where an adult helps a minor to access drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. Another example includes a situation where someone encourages a minor to act as a lookout while they commit a burglary. In addition to potential burglary charges, they could also face contributing to the delinquency of minor charges, since they encouraged a minor to engage in criminal behavior.
If you have been accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, you should consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP as soon as possible. A conviction could impact your future employment opportunities for many years. Our attorneys will first need to closely examine the specific details and circumstances in order to develop a strategy to obtain the best possible outcome. Now that we have covered a basic overview of contributing to the delinquency of a minor charges, let’s take a closer look at the legal definition, penalties, and potential legal defenses below.
California Penal Code Section 272 - Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
California Penal Code Section 272 legally defines contributing to the delinquency of a minor as:
(a) (1) Every person who commits an act or omits the performance of any duty, which causes or encourages any person under 18 years to come within the provisions of Section 300, 601, or 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code or which act or omission contributes to, or any person who an act or omission, by threats, commands, or persuasion, induces any person under 18 years, or dependent child of the juvenile court to refuse to conform to a lawful order of the juvenile court, or to do or to perform any act to cause that person to become or to remain a person within the provisions the Welfare and Institutions Code, is guilty of a misdemeanor offense.
In more basic terms, this legal definition means your could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor if you commit an act, or fail to perform a duty, that would encourage a minor to become a dependent of the Los Angeles County juvenile court, a delinquent, or a habitual truant. Under California law, committing an act or failure to perform a duty means that parents or legal guardians have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care, supervision, and control of the minor. Simply put, parents are responsible for their kids. In order to be found guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the prosecutor must be able to prove that you acted, or failed to act, with general criminal intent or criminal negligence. General criminal intent simply means your acts were on purpose. There is NO requirement that you had intent to break the law. Criminal negligence means that your acts were reckless to a point where it created a high risk of great bodily injury or death.
Causing a Minor to Become a Dependent of the Juvenile Court
Under California penal Code Section 272, causing a minor to become a dependent of California's juvenile court system can apply for different reasons, including:
- If they are a victim of child neglect, child abuse, or sexual abuse
- If they suffer emotional damage from mistreatment by parents of legal guardian
- If they are subjected by acts of cruelty by a household member
- If they are left without any means of support
- If their sibling becomes a victim of neglect or abuse
A dependent of the juvenile system is a minor where the court decided to intervene and act as their guardian. This is common in a case when Los Angeles County Child Protective Services removes a minor from their home due to alleged neglect or abuse.
If you cause or encourage a minor to become a juvenile delinquent, this means you caused a minor to commit an act that resulted in a conviction in a Los Angeles County juvenile court. Normally, charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor will be formally filed after they were found guilty in California's juvenile court process. To become a habitual truant means the minor routinely refuses to obey reasonable rules from their parents or guardians, violate curfews, or they have 4 or more unexcused absences from school during a school year. If you have questions, contact our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm.
Luring or Transporting a Minor Under 14 Years Old
California Penal Code Section 272(b), criminalizes the act or luring or transporting a minor under the age of 14 years. If you are 21 years and older, you could facing criminal charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, if your transport or lure any minor under 14, when there is no pre-existing relationship. In order for the Los Angeles County prosecutor to obtain a conviction, they must be able to prove:
- You knowingly communicated with a minor under 14 years old
- You knew, or should have reasonably known, the minor was under 14 years old
- Your intent was to persuade, lure, or transport them away from their parents or legal guardian without expressed consent, and
- Your intent was to avoid the consent of their parent’s or legal guardian.
You can’t be guilty of the criminal offense of luring or transporting a minor under 14 years old unless you are an adult and a stranger to the minor. You have to be at least 21 years old and have no substantial relationship with the minor, or established a relationship for primarily purpose of making them a victim. Call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our law firm for additional information.
If you are convicted of contributing to the delinquency, in violation of California Penal Code Section 272(a), you are guilty of a misdemeanor crime. The legal penalties include up to 1 year in a Los Angeles County jail, a fine up to $2,500, and summary probation for up to 5 years.
If you are convicted of luring or transporting a minor under 14 years, in violation of California Penal Code Section 272(b), you are guilty of a misdemeanor crime. The legal penalties include up to 6 months in a Los Angeles County jail, a fine up to $1,000, and summary probation. However, if you were charged as only an infraction, it would result in just a fine up to $250.
Sex Offender Registration
If convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor or luring a minor under 14 years old, and your criminal offense involved engaging or intending to engage in lewd or lascivious conduct towards the minor, you could be required to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code section 290. Typically, you would face this mandatory registration if your conduct was specifically intended for sexual gratification. If the courts orders sex offender registration, it would mean that you must register your home address every year, with your local Los Angeles police station. If you fail to register, you could new criminal charges of failure to register as a sex offender.
An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at our law firm can use a wide variety of legal defenses on your behalf. Any legal strategy against charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor would require a thorough look at the facts and circumstances. The legal defenses include:
False accusation – It’s not uncommon in Los Angeles County for people to be falsely accused of improper conduct with minors. In some cases, minors will make a false allegation of a crime against someone as an act of revenge, or they are simply seeking attention. In other cases, an adult could make a false allegation against you because they know how aggressively these type of cases are prosecuted. Their goal of the false accusation could be an attempt to ruin your reputation or used to gain an advantage in a child custody case. Our criminal lawyers may be able to gather enough evidence to prove the allegations are false.
You had a reasonable belief they were not a minor – In some cases, minors may look or even act much older than their actual age. If you had a reasonable belief they were an adult, our lawyers might be able to convince the prosecutor you are not guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A common example includes a situation where someone buys a drink for a minor in a bar. The minor gained entry by using a fake ID card, stating they were 21 years old. Our attorneys may be able to argue that since the minor concealed their real age, you should not be found guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The minor has severe behavioral disorders and difficult to control – In some cases, you may be a parent with a minor who is next to impossible to control. Los Angeles County prosecutors can charge parents who child is always truant from school, or convicted in a juvenile court. They could argue that you failed to provide care and supervision, thus criminally negligent. Additionally, California law makes exceptions for those who are a legal guardian of a minor with a behavioral disorder. Our criminal attorneys may be able to show you acted reasonably to control your child. We might be able to prove they have a mental disorder or around the wrong crowd at school. If we are successful, you should not be found guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Related Criminal Offenses
Under California law, there are many other closely related offenses that could be charged in addition to, or maybe even instead of, contributing to the delinquency of a minor. These include:
California Health & Safety Code 11361 - Furnishing a Minor with Marijuana
California Penal Code Section 288.2 – Sending Harmful Material to a Minor
California Penal Code Section 653(b) – Loitering at School
Business & Professions Code 25658 - Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor
Furnishing alcohol to a minor is related to contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and probably the most common related offense in Los Angeles County. It’s a crime to supply alcohol to a minor. It includes giving and selling alcohol to minors, and any adult under 21 years old.
Call a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing allegations of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, you would be wise to contact a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Eisner Gorin LLP. Let our lawyers evaluate you case in order to determine an effective strategy to defend you. We have a track record of success and will aggressively fight for the best possible outcome of your case. We offer a free immediate response. Call our lawyers at 877-781-1570.
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