Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor is a broad statute in South Carolina. The statute is designed to protect minors from being led astray by adults and to prevent adults from exploiting and corrupting young people.
In this article you will:
- Learn the definition of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor”
- Hear some examples of the charge
- See the potential penalties for a conviction
- Find out how a criminal defense attorney can help
The Basics of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor is a criminal offense with which someone can be charged for encouraging bad, immoral, or illegal conduct by a minor which results in the minor engaging in prohibited conduct. Oftentimes, an offender will not have given much thought to the conduct which lead to his or her arrest.
Examples of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
What does Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor in South Carolina look like? It could be an infinite number of scenarios, including:
- An adult provided alcohol to minors.
- A 16-year-old has an older significant other that picks her up from school against her parents’ wishes, causing the child to miss too much school. It could be those same individuals running away together.
- An adult encouraging a minor to participate in illegal activity–the parent that encourages their child to shoplift or the older crowd that sends a minor to commit an armed robbery.
One of the most common factual scenarios I have seen are the parents or other adults who provide alcohol to minors or allow teenagers to consume alcohol in their homes. These parents may think they are doing the right thing by providing a safe place for their teenagers, but it is against the law.
Another scenario could be a group of teenagers hanging out together. Some of them are over 18 years old. Others are under 18 years of age. In their minds, they are just teenagers hanging out with their friends who are about their same age. Soon, one of the older (over 18) teenagers thinks it would be fun for all of them to go bash mailboxes. The older teenager encourages all the others to come along. Even though they are all teenagers, the older teenager could be charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor simply because of the age difference.
Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor in SC: The Charge
The factual scenarios under which an individual may be charged are endless, but basically the statute is going to cover any conduct by an adult that causes the minor to engage in illegal or immoral behavior.
Specifically, Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor requires the following:
- The offender must be over the age of 18 years old
- Must have knowingly and willfully acted, meaning it was done on purpose
- Must encourage, aid or cause or do any act which shall cause or influence a minor to do one of the prohibited acts.
The adult’s behavior must cause or have encouraged the minor to do any of the following:
- Violate a law or municipal ordinance
- Be incorrigible or ungovernable or habitually disobedient
- To be habitually truant (miss too much school)
- Without just cause repeatedly leave home (sneak out or runaway)
- To engage in an occupation that is against the law (prostitution, selling drugs)
- To associate with immoral persons
- To frequent illegal places
- To habitually use obscene language
- To beg in any public places (standing on the street asking for money)
- To cause him or her to willfully injure or endanger their morals, health, or morals or health of another person
The last part of the statute “cause him or her to willfully injure or endanger their morals, health, or morals or health of another person” is very broad language. Someone may find himself charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor based on this broad language.
Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor in SC: The Penalties
Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor is classified as a Class A misdemeanor in South Carolina. If convicted, a person faces a fine of up to $3,000 or up to 3 years in jail or both. There is, of course, judicial discretion, meaning the judge has the final say as to what the specific sentence will be.
Your attorney’s mitigating argument is very important. Your attorney will want to highlight the good and mitigate the bad. A lot of people charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor are good people who perhaps made a bad decision or maybe the whole scenario was a misunderstanding. Other times, it could be that an adult has engaged in trafficking a minor. No matter what the allegations are, having an attorney that can investigate the facts and apply them to the law is important.
Need help with your Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor Charge in SC?
You may have found yourself in a situation that appears difficult to explain, but has a perfectly legitimate explanation. That’s not to say that Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor never happens. It obviously does. There are other times when it appears that this crime has occurred, but things are not what they seem.
You do not want to explain yourself, as anything you say can be used in Court. It is imperative to hire a South Carolina criminal attorney that can present your case for you. Contact a criminal attorney as soon as possible to start building the best defense possible.
Questions? Speak With Jennilee.