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Are Parents Responsible For Their Child’s Crimes?

Wolfe Law Group, LLC June 15, 2022

Parenting is one of the greatest privileges in life—and also one of the most challenging tasks. It can be very disappointing and frustrating when your child makes mistakes as they grow up, especially when those mistakes lead to criminal charges. What is even more frustrating is that you, as a parent, can be held responsible for your child’s actions.

If you are a parent facing liability for your child’s crime or wrongdoing, reach out to Wolfe Law Group, LLC. The criminal defense attorneys at Wolfe Law Group, LLC, represent children facing charges in juvenile court and parents facing liability for their children’s crimes. From its office in Columbus, Ohio, the law firm handles criminal, juvenile, and parental responsibility cases throughout the state, including Hillard, Dublin, Gahanna, Westerville, Newark, Lancaster, and surrounding areas.

Parental Responsibility Laws

According to Ohio’s Legislative Service Commission, persons under the age of 18 accounted for 9.4% of all arrests in the state in 2018. Three of the most common juvenile crimes in Ohio were assaults, larceny-theft, and drug-related offenses. Like most other states, Ohio has parental responsibility laws in place.

Parental responsibility laws mean that parents can be held financially responsible for their children’s actions and all the damage and harm that their children cause to others. Generally, the parental responsibility law applies to both parents. However, there may be exceptions to the general rule. Common examples of when only one parent can be held responsible for their child’s crimes include:

  • The child was born outside of marriage, and there is no child custody order issued by the court; and

  • Only one parent has been granted custody of the child, while the other parent has no decision-making authority and does not play any role in the child’s life  

Whether or not the parental responsibility law applies to both parents depends on your unique situation and family dynamics. Speak with a local criminal defense lawyer to discuss the extent of your responsibility for a child’s crimes and possible consequences.

Ohio’s Parental Responsibility Law

Parental responsibility law in Ohio contains four sections:

  1. Responsibility for theft and property damage

  2. Responsibility for vandalism

  3. Responsibility for personal injury

  4. Responsibility for driving-related offenses

In the eyes of the law, a minor (or juvenile) is a person under the age of majority, which is 18 in Ohio and most other states. Under Ohio’s parental responsibility law, parents and guardians can be held responsible for their children’s crimes and misconduct as long as the child is below the age of 18. In addition, parents and guardians can share liability for the damages and harm caused by their child if they are deemed negligent in supervising their child.

Possible Parental Consequences

The consequences and penalties associated with parental responsibility depend on the type of the crime or wrongdoing committed by the minor:

  • Theft or willfully causing damage to someone else’s property. The child’s parent or guardian can face up to $10,000 in liability and be ordered to reimburse the claimant for their legal fees and costs, including attorney fees.

  • Vandalism, ethnic intimidation, and desecration. The parent’s liability can reach up to $15,000 for their child’s acts of desecration, vandalism, or ethnic intimidation. The parent may also be ordered to reimburse the victim for their legal costs.

  • Personal injury. Parents can be liable for up to $10,000 for any damages caused by their child’s willful and malicious assault of another person. The parent may also be ordered to reimburse the injured party for their court-related expenses associated with bringing a personal injury claim.

  • Driving-related offenses. Ohio law requires an adult (a minor’s parent or legal guardian) to sign an underage person’s driver's license application. When a child’s behavior behind the wheel amounts to negligent or reckless conduct or willful and wanton misconduct, the adult whose signature appears on the driver’s application can be held responsible for the damages caused by the underage driver.

Juvenile crimes involving parental responsibility are urgent matters that need to be addressed as soon as possible. Seek out legal counsel if you are facing parental responsibility for your child’s crimes in Ohio.

Skilled Defense of Your Rights

A criminal defense attorney at Wolfe Law Group, LLC, will work to defend you and your child’s rights and do what is necessary to help you limit parental responsibility for your child’s crimes. Reach out to a criminal defense attorney based in Columbus, Ohio, to discuss your particular situation and learn what you can do to protect yourself and your child.