The Far Reach of a Contributing to Delinquency Charge
If you were recently arrested for allegedly shoplifting or driving under the influence with a child present, you may have been surprised to also receive a charge for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Most assume that this offense directly relates to the physical or sexual abuse of a child, but the broad elements of this crime make it applicable to a wide variety of situations. Some recent examples in the news include:
- As reported by an NBC News affiliate, a Daytona Beach mother is facing charges for allegedly encouraging a fight between her daughter and another child. Her daughter reportedly arrived home to report that another child took her backpack. The accused allegedly accompanied her daughter to the bus stop and ordered her to fight the other child. According to reports, when the victim’s brother attempted to intervene, the accused allegedly threw him to the ground. She is facing charges of child abuse, as well as contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
- As reported by WPBF News, two women were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor after allegedly leaving two children inside of a store. The women allegedly attempted to steal several items from the store. When approached by a member of management, they reportedly ran out and left the children.
What the Statute Says
Under Florida Criminal Code 82.7, it is illegal to cause, tend to cause, encourage or contribute to a child becoming delinquent, dependent, or becoming in need of services The law also makes it a crime to induce, threaten or persuade a child to live in a manner that causes the child to become or remain delinquent, dependent or in need of services. Violations of this code are classified as a first degree misdemeanor, with a maximum possible penalty of one year in jail. The wording of the code is broad, which leaves substantial room for judicial interpretation. This rings especially true when considering what constitutes delinquency.
Florida law defines a delinquent act as:
- a violation of any local, state or federal law which would be punishable if committed by an adult.
A child in need of services is described as:
- a child who persistently runs away from his or her parents;
- a child who is habitually truant from school; or
- a child who is uncontrollable by his or her parents.
A dependent child is defined as one who:
- has been abandoned or abused or neglected;
- has been surrendered voluntarily turned over to the state Department of Health;
- has no parent or guardian capable of providing care; or
- is in imminent danger of abuse or neglect by the parent or guardian.
The far reach of these definitions make them applicable to a variety of possible situations. However, a contributing charge is not an automatic judgment of guilt. With a capable attorney, you can mount a successful and aggressive defense. Your attorney may argue that you lacked the necessary knowledge element of the crime. She may also argue that no causality exists between your alleged actions and the delinquency of the involved child.
If you or a loved one is facing contributing to the delinquency of a minor charges, it is important to quickly contact a skilled attorney in Miami. Call Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.