Contributing To The Delinquency Of A Minor (Can Break Up A Marriage)

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor (CDM) is a crime charged to an adult tolerating or encouraging a minor to do a criminal act. The person is a minor if he is below 18 years old. The crime committed by the minor is part of “juvenile delinquency,” and since the person who committed the crime is underage, the case will be handled by a separate criminal justice system for minors.


I am focusing my thoughts on this topic because I know someone who blames herself for the separation of her parents. When she was younger, she used to be a juvenile delinquent. At age 14, she ran away from home. When she was 15, she dropped out of school and lived on the streets. As soon as she stepped 16, just for her to come back home, her mother lied to the police for her. Eventually, the police found out about what her mother did, and it destroyed her. Her father also left her mother because of that incident.


Her parents have told her repeatedly that it’s not her fault, but no matter what they say, she always felt bad about it. She put on her big girl panties and redeemed herself from being a juvenile delinquent, but her parents never patched up. It made her guilty, and because of that she suffered from depression. It took her three years to cope with the reality, and she is now getting help for her mental health issue.  


Contributing To The Delinquency Of A Minor: Elements Of A Crime


By law, an adult assisting a minor’s urges to do an illegal act is also committing a crime. The impact of the action will depend on the participation of the adult on the crime committed by the teen or child. A few things are contributing to the delinquency of a minor (CDM), and it’s called elements.  


  • The adult failed to act on a duty. 
  • This act caused a minor to remain a juvenile court dependent.
  • The minor is a delinquent.
  • He or she is habitually a truant.


CDM Laws Are Different Per State.


In some states, adults charged with CDM are often the parents, the legal guardians and those who have lawful custody of the minor. Strangers can also contribute to the delinquency of a minor if they are rooting for the teen or child or assisting him to commit a crime. The term “contributing” will depend on the participation of the adult in the criminal act. 


Some states require the intention of the offender in committing a crime, regardless if the CDM offender is aware of the child’s age. However, other states are allowing “mens rea” as an affirmative defense. 


CDM Laws Per State


Cal. Pen Codes 272 (California): Punishment is one-year imprisonment and a fine of $2500 for a delinquent act. 


Florida Statute 827.04 (Florida): The First-degree misdemeanor is punishable by one-year imprisonment and $1000 fine. 


Ohio Revised Code 2919.24 (Ohio): “Unruly child” is referring to a minor who commits a crime. Each day that a violation occurs will be prosecuted separately. 


Provision Of Alcohol To Minors Versus CDM


Adults providing alcohol to minors which will then lead to a delinquency act are chargeable with CDM. A separate case regarding giving alcohol to kids below 21 years old will also be imposed. This sanction will depend on state laws. The defendant has the option to plead guilty to a lesser punishment, but still, the prosecutors have the power to choose what crime to charge the offenders.


Exemptions Of CDM


In some instances, there are exemptions to CDM:


  • Private premises and with parental consent (in 29 states)
  • Exclusive location even without approval from the parent (6 states)
  • Religious matters (25 states)
  • Medical purposes (16 states)
  • Work-related to the Government (4 states)
  • Educational reasons (7 states)
  • Selling of alcohol with parental consent (11 states)


Getting Legal Help On CDM Cases


The CDM elements vary between jurisdictions that is why it is advisable that you still seek advice from a counsel in your defense. A qualified lawyer knows certain situations and cases and possible charges, and can give you the best possible argument. Make sure that all the necessary details are disclosed to your counsel for him to build a strong defense on your behalf.


CDM cases can be very stressful, but this can be handled successfully by hiring the right attorney to represent you. My friend’s mother made her choice. She suffered much for her daughter, and it was a decision she had to make. It changed her life, the relationship with her husband and her future. But that’s how life is for her, and it makes you think – if she didn’t lie for her daughter, whose life would be destroyed now? 

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