California Penal Code Section 272 describes the offenses and penalties associated with contributing to the delinquency of a minor child. It’s a misdemeanor crime for a legal adult to actively contribute to the commission of a crime or fail to exercise reasonable care to prevent delinquent behavior by a minor child. Contributing to the delinquency of a child charges often stem from unfounded accusations or unsubstantiated evidence. A criminal misdemeanor conviction can impose harsh penalties and lifelong consequences. If you have become the subject of a 272 Penal Code investigation, it’s important to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect your legal rights and future.
It’s fairly common to come across criminal prosecutions for offenses such as providing individuals with drugs or alcohol in violation of Penal Code Section 272. Simply purchasing alcohol for someone under the age of 21 could result in a misdemeanor conviction. Even a first-time offender can be saddled with a damaging criminal record and probation. Negligent omissions for failing to prevent a minor from violating California law are subject to criminal prosecution. A legal adult riding as a passenger in a vehicle driven by a minor child under the age of 18, for example, is legally obligated to use reasonable means to prevent the driver from driving recklessly or while intoxicated. Legal authorities may very well construe such behavior as contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The California 272 statute is broadly defined and interpreted to fit a wide range of situations and circumstances involving juvenile delinquency. Although prosecutions involving parental responsibility are often prosecuted as child endangerment, parents and strangers alike are subject to 272 prosecution. A 272 conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a substantial fine. Unfortunately, the wide latitude afforded to legal authorities in Section 272 cases often results in the prosecution and conviction of innocent defendants.
Section 272 Defense
A 272 conviction can greatly damage your family, career and reputation. Even a misdemeanor conviction can limit a defendant’s access to employment and education programs. Once the evidence and circumstances surrounding a Section 272 charge have been thoroughly investigated by a qualified criminal defense attorney, one of the following defense strategies may be indicated:
- False accusation stemming from a divorce, custody dispute or some other circumstance
- Mistaken factual evidence
- Clear inability to control a minor child
- Mistaken age
- Consent of the minor child’s parents
Delinquency of a Minor
Even minor children can be prosecuted for contributing to the delinquency of another minor child. A Section 272 charge must be founded on an intentional act or criminal negligence. In cases involving criminal negligence, the prosecution must show that the inaction of the defendant failed to rise to the level of care and concern that would ordinarily be expected of an average adult.
As with any criminal charge, it’s incumbent upon the prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Our law firm is dedicated to holding the prosecution to this high legal standard. Please begin the process of protecting your legal rights by contacting our office to schedule a free case evaluation as soon as possible.