Can Parents Be Held Responsible for Their Children's Crimes?

In Connecticut, a minor (a child under the age of 18 years) can be arrested for committing a crime. While a parent or legal guardian cannot be be held criminal liable for actions of a child (barring some sort of conspiracy or accessory situation), the parent or gurdian may potentially be liable for injuries or damages caused by the child's willful misconduct or negligent actions. That means the parents and child can be sued in civil court. Parents can also less directly bear respoonsibility for the actions of their children through their insurance. Although it's possible that either home or auto insurance policies can cover damages or injuries, premiums could increase. 

If your child has been accused of a crime and you want to understand your parental liability and possible ramifications, it is important that you retain an aggressive Connecticut criminal defense attorney immediately to build your defense. At DeMatteo Legal Solutions, I can evaluate and investigate all the surrounding circumstances of your personal situation and craft an effective strategy in pursuit of a favorable outcome for your case. My firm is proud to represent clients throughout the New Haven and Fairfield counties of Connecticut.

Parental Responsibility Laws

Being a parent or acting as a legal guardian involves a lot of legal obligations and responsibilities. Connecticut's parental responsibility laws are designed to hold parents and legal guardians liable for an injury or property damage caused by the willful or malicious misconduct or negligent actions of their unemancipated minor.

To Whom Do They Apply?

The Connecticut parental responsibility laws apply to:

  • The parent or parents of a minor child
  • The legal guardian

Connecticut's Parental Responsibility Statute

Pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-572,

"The parent or parents or guardian, of any unemancipated minor or minors, which minor or minors wilfully or maliciously cause damage to any property or injury to any person, or, having taken a motor vehicle without the permission of the owner thereof, cause damage to the motor vehicle, shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor or minors for the damage or injury to an amount not exceeding five thousand dollars, if the minor or minors would have been liable for the damage or injury if they had been adults."

Willful and Malicious Conduct

Willful and malicious conduct can be described as an action or behavior that is carried out by a person "without just cause or excuse." If a child's actions are considered willful or malicious, the child's parent, parents, or legal guardian will be held liable for any injury or property damages resulting from such willful or malicious conduct.

Monetary Limits

According to Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-572, the child's parents or legal guardian will be liable to an amount not exceeding $5,000. While the liability is only imposed on the parents or legal guardian, it is not removed from the unemancipated minor.

Common-Law Liability

Additionally, in cases where Connecticut's parental responsibility laws do not apply, a parent or legal guardian may still be held financially liable for their child's negligent or reckless actions. Under Section 316 of the Restatement (Second),

"A parent is under a duty to exercise reasonable care so as to control his minor child as to prevent it from intentionally harming others or from so conducting itself as to create an unreasonable risk of bodily harm to them, if the parent:

  • Knows or has reason to know that he has the ability to control his child, and
  • Knows of or should know of the necessity and opportunity of exercising such control."

Hence, a parent who knows that their child has the tendency to act carelessly is expected to take preemptive measures to prevent their child from causing potential harm, bodily injury, or property damages to others.

Getting the Experienced Legal Guidance You Need

Parents and legal guardians in Connecticut may be held civilly liable for the willful misconduct or negligence of their children, resulting in injuries or damages to another person or property. However, trying to defend yourself in such circumstances without experienced representation can expose you to the risks of suffering devastating consequences. Therefore, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial to protect you and your child's rights and strategize an effective defense.

At DeMatteo Legal Solutions, I have devoted my career to providing experienced legal services and representing parents and legal guardians who are facing criminal accusations as a result of their children's negligent actions. As your legal counsel, I can review and investigate all of the facts of your unique situation thoroughly and determine the best defense strategy for your case.

Using my extensive understanding of Connecticut's parental responsibility laws, I will fight aggressively to defend you and your child's legal rights and improve your chances of a better outcome. Having me on your side can make a huge difference in your case.

If your child is under investigation for any kind of crime, contact my firm – DeMatteo Legal Solutions – today to schedule a simple case assessment with a skilled criminal defense attorney. I can offer you the detailed legal counsel, strong advocacy, and reliable representation you need. My firm proudly represents clients throughout West Haven, Milford, New Haven, Waterbury, Derby, Fairfield, Stratford, Westport, Wilton, Trumbull, Bridgeport, Hamden, North Haven, East Haven, Branford, North Branford, Guilford, Madison and Meriden, Connecticut.


Recent Posts

According to the statistics from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, there were 7,577 total DUI arrests in Connecticut ...
Learn More