Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a serious misdemeanor offense in Virginia. You face harsh punishments and long-term consequences if you are convicted.
However, you may be able to fight the charges you face—even if you believe you are guilty—with the help of a skilled criminal defense lawyer. This can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less severe offense with less harsh punishments, such as probation instead of a jail sentence.
What Is the Legal Definition of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor?
Under Virginia Code §18.2-371, there are two ways that an individual, which includes the child’s parent, can commit the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. They include the following:
- Willfully contributing to, encouraging, or causing the delinquency of a child or neglecting or abusing a child
- Engaging in consensual sexual or anal intercourse with a child who is 15 years old or older
What Is Willful Contribution to the Delinquency of a Minor?
The prosecutor must prove every element of the crime contributing to a minor’s delinquency for someone to be found guilty of this offense. To establish the willful contribution to the delinquency of a minor, the prosecutor must show that the defendant intentionally and deliberately took actions when they probably knew the consequences of the actions.
Willful contribution can also be established if the individual fails to commit an action or fails to act when they have a duty to do so. Parents and guardians of a minor are held to the highest standard in Virginia and have the highest duty of care not to create a risk to their children. A common situation where someone might be willfully contributing to the delinquency of a minor is when they inadequately supervised a child or assisted in the accused’s acts.
What Is the Delinquency of a Minor?
The delinquency of a minor is also referred to as juvenile delinquency. The delinquency can be the commission of a misdemeanor or felony by a minor before their 18th birthday.
Who Is Considered a Minor?
Under Virginia Code §18.2-371, a child or minor is anyone under 18 years old. A defendant can not claim that they did not realize the victim was a minor as a defense.
What Is Consensual Sexual Intercourse?
Another way that a parent or other adult can be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor is if they engage in consensual sexual or anal intercourse with a minor who is 15 or older. An 18-year-old who has consensual sex with their 16 or 17-year-old boyfriend or girlfriend could also be charged with this offense. Consensual sexual acts that could lead to these charges include the following:
- Sexual intercourse
- Anal intercourse
- Cunnilingus, which is oral sex by a male on a female
- Fellatio, which means oral sex by a female on a male
- Annillingus, which is oral sex involving the mouth on the anus
- Animate and inanimate sexual penetration with an object or a finger of the vagina or anus
What Are the Penalties for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor?
Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties might include a jail or prison sentence of up to one year, a fine not to exceed $2,500, or both. In addition, the defendant could be ordered to have no contact with the victim and to attend counseling or an educational program to avoid these actions occurring in the future. They would also have a permanent criminal record that could affect their ability to obtain a job, housing, education, and more.
Have you been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Virginia? Our experienced criminal defense lawyers can aggressively defend you so that you achieve the best possible outcome in your criminal case. Call our Manassas office at 888-DUI-LWYR, or fill out our online form today to schedule your free initial consultation to learn more about how we can help you.