As a parent of a teenager who has committed a crime, one thing you may want to know is if you’ll be held accountable for your child’s actions. For the most part, parents will not be held accountable for the actions of their children until their children reach the ages of 8 to 10 and after their children exceed the age of majority.

Children, or juveniles, could face charges for both criminal and civil offenses. Civil cases may end up filed against them for financial compensation, while criminal cases could result because of a violation of criminal law. Both can result in repercussions, some of which may involve the parents.

What is civil parental liability?

Civil parental liability is when parents face liability for the malicious or willful property damage caused by their children. There may be limits on how much parents are required to pay, but the important thing to keep in mind is that the other party can hold the parents responsible since a child is unlikely to be able to compensate them for damage.

Here’s an example. If your child takes a bat to your neighbor’s vehicle and shatters a windshield, then you may be held liable for the damage. Your child intentionally struck the vehicle, so it may be your responsibility to cover the damages. Parents are only obligated to pay for the financial losses that a child causes.

Can parents face charges for children’s actions?

In some cases, parents can be held responsible for the criminal actions of their children and face jail or other penalties themselves. In 1903, Colorado started this by enacting a law that penalizes parents who contribute to their children’s delinquency. Today, parents may be held liable for some crimes including those that are a result of internet usage or a child’s access to firearms in the home.

Parents can only be held liable for the actions of minor children. Once a child reaches 18, in the majority of states, parents can no longer face trial or fines as a result of their children’s actions. The good news for parents, on top of this, is that many homeowners’ or renter’s insurance policies will cover intentional or negligent damage to other people’s property, even if those acts didn’t happen on the parent’s property. This could help parents shield themselves from having to pay for damages out of pocket if their children commit crimes.