Don’t allow an accusation of contributing to the delinquency of a minor to ruin your reputation and jeopardize your freedom. Contact Robert M. Helfend today – 800-834-6434.
“Contributing to the delinquency of a minor” involves any act by an adult that encourages, causes or allows a minor to act unlawfully, behave improperly, or become a dependent of the juvenile court system.
Common examples are things like providing alcohol to a minor, offering them illicit substances or encouraging them to partake in criminal activities.
If convicted, an offender could face penalties such as probation, fines and jail time, with the specific consequences depending on the severity and nature of the violation.
There are several defense strategies available to fight charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A California criminal defense attorney can examine the facts of your case to determine the defense strategy that best fits your unique circumstances.
- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor – California Penal Code 272 PC
- Penalties for contributing to the delinquency of a minor
- Related offenses
- Legal defenses against Penal Code 272 PC charges
Contributing to the delinquency of a minor – California Penal Code 272 PC
Under California Penal Code 272 PC, it’s a crime to cause or enable a person under 18 years of age to engage in illegal or delinquent behavior, become habitually truant or become a dependent of the juvenile court system.
In order to be convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the prosecutor must prove that:
- You committed an act or failed to perform a duty imposed by the law, and
- By doing so, you contributed to a minor’s engagement in illegal or delinquent behavior, habitual truancy, or becoming a dependent of the juvenile court
Examples of contributing to the delinquency of a minor include:
- Giving beer and cigarettes to a 15-year-old cousin and his friends
- Hiding a child who has run away from home
- Encouraging a person under 18 to skip school
The terms “delinquent child,” “habitual truant,” and “dependent of the juvenile court system,” are legally defined under Penal Code 272 PC.
- Delinquent child – A person under 18 years of age who the court has found guilty of committing a crime.
- Habitual truant – A minor who has:
- Violated a curfew based on age,
- Disobeyed reasonable orders of their parent or guardian on a persistent or habitual basis, and/or
- Been absent from school, without excuse, on four or more occasions in a single school year
- Dependent of the juvenile court system – A minor child who:
- is a victim of abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect
- does not have any means of support from a parent or guardian
- is subjected to cruelty by a family member or person in their household
- suffers emotional damage as a result of abuse, mistreatment, or neglect by a parent or guardian
A person can be guilty of violating Penal Code 272 PC by acting with either criminal intent or criminal negligence.
To act with criminal intent is to:
- Intentionally commit an illegal act or fail to perform a legally required duty
To act with criminal negligence is to:
- Act in a manner that is reckless and imposes a risk of great bodily injury or death to another person, and
- A reasonable person would be aware of the risk associated with the act or behavior
There are certain required duties that this statute legally imposes on parents and legal guardians of minors. If failing to perform those duties contributes to a minor’s delinquency, truancy, or dependency on the juvenile court, then the parent or guardian may be found guilty of violating Penal Code 272 PC. Those duties are:
- Reasonable care
- Control over the minor
Penalties for contributing to the delinquency of a minor
Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by:
- Up to one year in county jail and/or
- A fine of up to $2,500
Upon reviewing your case, a judge may decide to grant you misdemeanor probation in lieu of jail time.
It is possible to have your PC 272 conviction expunged if you successfully complete your sentenced jail time or misdemeanor probation.
There are offenses related to contributing to the delinquency of a minor that a person might be charged with in addition to or instead of Penal Code 272 PC, depending on the facts of the case. Below is information about the three most common related offenses.
Sending harmful material to a minor – PC 288.2
It is illegal to send, distribute, or exhibit harmful, obscene, lewd, or lascivious material to a minor. PC 288.2 is a felony offense with more severe penalties than Penal Code 272 PC.
Furnishing alcohol to a minor – BPC 25658
Selling or furnishing alcohol to a person under 21 (the legal drinking age) is a misdemeanor offense under California Penal Code 272 PC.
Furnishing marijuana to a minor – HS 11361
In certain cases, a person might be charged with violating Health and Safety Code 11361 in addition to PC 272. Under HS 11361, it is illegal to:
- Give, sell, or offer marijuana to a person under 18 years of age
- Persuade or induce a minor to use marijuana
- Involve or employ a minor in the exchange, transportation, or sale of marijuana.
Legal defenses against Penal Code 272 PC charges
If you’ve been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, there are a number of criminal defense strategies that your criminal defense attorney may consider using to fight the accusations against you. The best strategy will depend on the facts of your individual case. Three of the most common defenses against Penal Code 272 PC charges are explained below.
Could not control a child
It is a legal duty of a parent or guardian to maintain control and reasonable care of their minor children. However, in instances where a parent or guardian is unable to control a child despite their best efforts and reasonable care, they may not be found guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Didn’t know that the person was a minor
Penal Code 272 PC only applies to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and is not relevant if the person is over the age of 18. You can defend yourself against Penal Code 272 OC charges by demonstrating that you were unaware that the person was a minor or had reason to believe that they were legally an adult.
It is not uncommon for minor children to accuse adults of violating Penal Code 272 PC in order to get attention or seek revenge on the adult. If you were unjustly accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, by the child or another party, you can use evidence of that false accusation to fight the charges against you.
If you’ve been accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a qualified criminal defense attorney can assist you in developing the best strategy to fight the charges against you.
California criminal defense attorney Robert M. Helfend has been representing clients in the Los Angeles area for more than 30 years. Whether you’re looking to hire an experienced and defense attorney to represent you or have questions about contributing to the delinquency of a minor or other California offenses, Robert is ready to assist you – 800-834-6434.
Published October 13, 2023.