Contributing to the delinquency of a minor holds various penalties in the state of Florida. If you or someone you know has been charged with this crime, keep reading to understand the penalties, charges, and defenses available to you.
What Does “Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor” Mean?
According to the Florida Statutes, Section 827.04, contributing to the delinquency of a minor is anyone who “commits any act which causes, tends to cause, encourages, or contributes to a child becoming a delinquent or dependent child or a child in need of services; or induces or endeavors to induce, by act, threat, command, or persuasion, a child to commit or perform any act, follow any course of conduct, or live in a manner that causes or tends to cause such child to become or to remain a dependent or delinquent child or a child in need of services.”
More simply put, this crime occurs when an adult encourages or enables a child to commit a delinquent act.
In the statute, they refer to a “child“. This refers to someone who is under the age of eighteen, and is also synonymous with the term minor.
They also mention the term “delinquent act.” This is defined as violating the law in the state of Florida, of the United States, or county which could be punished by incarceration.
This charge could refer to various offenses. Common offenses associated with contributing to the delinquency of a minor are:
- Giving a minor alcohol
- Preventing a child from going to school
- Allowing a child to beg for money or food on the street
- Giving a minor drugs
- Persuading a minor to steal another’s property
Because this charge is broad and can cover a wide range of offenses, it’s important to contact a criminal defense attorney so they can help defend your rights.
The Penalties for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
In the state of Florida, this offense is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by one year of jail time and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Additionally, this law also covers sex crimes enacted against a child. A person who is 21 years or older who impregnates a child who is 16 years old or younger is charged with a third-degree felony. This crime is classified as child abuse and the penalties are 5 years jail and a financial penalty that could reach $5,000.
These may include added on financial penalties (fines), court costs, compensation, community service, supervision, probation and other possible sanctions. These penalties are left to the jurisdiction of the judge presiding over the case.
Possible Defenses for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
When an individual is charged with knowingly contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the prosecution must prove two things:
- You, as the defendant, knowingly committed an act that caused or encouraged the child to become delinquent.
- You, as the defendant, threatened or coerced a child to do something to become delinquent or in need of services.
Thus, possible defenses for a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor are:
- The defendant lacked knowledge that the individual was a minor.
- The defendant could not reasonably maintain control of the minor
- There could be a dispute over the facts regarding the defendant’s contact with the minor
- They were accused incorrectly.
- The defendant’s actions did not contribute to the minor becoming delinquent. This is a lack of causation defense.
To recap, the offense takes place when a person is charged with “Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, causing the minor to become a (habitual) truant, or even becoming a dependent of the juvenile courts. It’s classified as a first degree misdemeanor and results in jail time and fines.
Employing an Attorney
Contributing to the delinquency of a minor offense is a broad crime compared to others. These wide range of actions allow a skilled attorney to build a defense by choosing a multitude of routes. It is important to employ the services of a skilled criminal attorney at the earliest opportunity so that a defense case can be built.
A skilled attorney can typically get a reduction in charges or ensure financial penalties are not so high. By utilizing one of the possible defenses listed above, it is also possible that the attorney can even get the case dismissed. This is why it’s crucial to talk with an attorney as soon as possible.
The impact on your life of being found guilty of one of these charges cannot be underestimated. These are potentially serious crimes and a good lawyer is a sensible investment to protect your finances, career, lifestyle, and even your freedom.
If you or someone you know has been accused of this crime, contact Hanlon Law. Our attorneys have experience in handling cases like these. We will work with you to develop the best possible defense for your unique case.
600 Cleveland St #1100
Clearwater, FL 33755