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Are Parents Responsible for Their Child’s Crimes? 

Richman Law Office LLC Jan. 12, 2022

Hands of a young child clutching prison bars.“After all, kids will be kids.” If you’re like me, you've heard this claim countless times. This statement often arises as a reaction to childish antics that are typically harmless and have little consequential impact. However, as young children begin to learn more about the world around them, parents carry the heavy responsibility to educate them about the power of their individual choices. When these choices move beyond the scope of kids ‘just being kids’ and into the realm of the criminal justice system, things become complex rather quickly. 

Continue reading to receive a brief overview of parent responsibility and liability laws, including the possible consequences for parents of criminally charged minors and the importance of relying on experienced representation.  

If you’re in need of immediate legal assistance from a skilled criminal defense attorney, reach out to me now at my office in Kansas City.  

Parental Responsibility Laws 

Kansas and Missouri define a minor as any child under the age of 18 who lives with one or both parents. Crimes committed by minors can result in penalties such as fines, probation, or juvenile detention.  While that may be common knowledge, it's fair to be wondering, “Am I responsible for my child’s crimes?”  

The answer is complex, but parents should know that, depending on the details of your child's case, you may also be held responsible for their child’s offenses.  

Although they may differ state-to-state, parental responsibility laws place the responsibility of reasonable supervision of minor children onto their parents at all times. Certainly, parents are unable to shadow their children every second of the day, but by preserving the expectation for parents to proactively care for and supervise children, crime is more preventable and damages to innocent victims are less likely to occur.   

Parental Responsibility Law in Kansas   

Kansas statutes hold parents responsible for the actions of minor children when they “maliciously or willfully injure a person or damage property”. The State courts can demand parents of a minor to pay up to $5,000 in damages as well as fines, fees, and court costs. Additionally, if the courts make the determination that parental neglect contributed to the propensity of the crime, courts have no limits to what financial penalties they can impose on them.  

Parental Responsibility Law in Missouri 

Similar to Kansas, Missouri adopts specific parental responsibility laws. The first holds parents responsible for property damage and personal injury. The second statute applies parental liability for damage caused by drivers under the age of 16. In either scenario, the dollar limit on parent’s liability is $2,000. If damages are beyond the $2,000 limit, an additional judgment can be placed on the minor to cover the difference.  

Possible Parental Consequences 

Courts take parental liability laws very seriously and, under necessary circumstances, may impose harsh penalties on parents. In most cases, when courts acknowledge that parents demonstrated reasonable supervision, the general statutes for Kansas and Missouri apply.  

However, when the court decides that one or both parents failed to exercise reasonable supervision of a child who tends to engage in criminal behavior, more severe penalties may be imposed. These consequences can include but are not limited to: 

  • Fines, fees, and restitution  

  • Parenting, rehabilitation, or counseling classes  

  • Jail or prison time 

Rely on Experienced Representation 

Raising productive and law-abiding children is often easier said than done. Sometimes the most attentive parents end up in a situation that they thought they would never experience. Civil and criminal cases that involve minors and parents are notorious to be complex. If your minor child has committed a crime, you need to rely on a trusted professional to protect your rights and obtain the best possible outcome for you and your child.  

As the leading attorney at the Richman Law Office LLC, I have the necessary experience and knowledge required to successfully navigate liability for a child’s actions. I will aggressively fight to protect your child’s rights and pursue the best possible outcome.    

If your minor child has committed a crime in either Kansas or Missouri, get accurate and trustworthy representation when you need it most. I represent children and their families in the communities of Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas. Call me today to start seeking justice.