Parental liability does not begin until a child is 8-years old and ends at the age of majority, which is 18 in most states. A child’s offense can be civil or criminal in nature. While many acts can trigger both civil and criminal legal repercussions, some will be one or the other.
In a civil case, a lawsuit is brought seeking monetary damages. In a criminal case, charges are brought by the government for violations of criminal law.
If your child faces civil charges, you will be held responsible for any monetary damages caused by the child’s actions. You are liable only for compensating the injured person for any monetary damages. Some state’s laws are stiffer than others in civil cases.
Examples of criminal liability include firearm access and internet crime-related laws. For instance, in many states there are laws on the books that make it a crime for an adult to leave a firearm where a child may access it. In some cases, parents may be held responsible for a child’s illegal actions while on the internet.
The reasoning behind these laws is that parents have a legal duty to take responsible measures to insure their child does not do harm to another person, or to another person’s property. If a parent fails to uphold these standards, they are then legally responsible for the damage that results.
A minor child is considered a resident of the same state in which the legal guardian resides. If parents reside in two different states, each parent is responsible for the child while that child is in their care.
If you have legal questions, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.