If you are a parent, guardian, teacher, or anyone with contact with minors or persons under 18 years old in California, you may wonder what offense could make you face an arrest. One such violation is called contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which is punishable under Penal Code 272 PC.

A PC 272 violation can be charged when you cause or enable a minor to commit illegal or delinquent conduct. Delinquent behavior includes skipping school, using drugs, drinking alcohol, committing vandalism, or running away from home. You could also face charges when you fail to act if you have a legal duty to protect a minor from engaging in such behavior.

If you violate Penal Code 272, you are charged with a misdemeanor crime under California law. If the court finds you guilty, you could face jail time or a fine. You could also face other consequences, such as losing your job, professional license, custody rights, or immigration status.

If you are accused of violating PC 272 in Los Angeles, you should not take this charge lightly. Instead, you should contact an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome. At the Law Office of Sara L. Caplan, we can help you understand the charges against you, challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution, negotiate a plea deal if appropriate, and represent you at trial if necessary.

The Meaning Of Contributing To The Delinquency Of A Minor Under California Law

When proving that you are guilty before the judge, the prosecution must show that:

  • You acted or refused to fulfill a legal duty.
  • Your act or omission caused or tended to cause or encourage a child to become:
    • A habitual truant.
    • A dependent of the juvenile court.
    • Involved in any criminal or immoral conduct.
  • You acted with general criminal intent or criminal negligence.

California law imposes specific duties on parents and legal guardians of minors to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection, and control over them. For example, you have a duty to ensure that your child attends school regularly and does not engage in unlawful activities such as drug use, vandalism, theft, or assault.

Before the court can find you guilty, you must act with either general criminal intent or criminal negligence. General criminal intent means you intended to do the act that caused or encouraged the minor’s delinquency. For example, you could give alcohol to your underage daughter and her friends, knowing they would consume it and become impaired.

Criminal negligence means you acted recklessly, creating a high risk of harm to a minor’s well-being. For example, leaving your loaded gun accessible to your young son, who accidentally shoots himself.

Typical scenarios where adults contribute to the delinquency of a minor in California are:

  • A male teacher who engages in an inappropriate sexual relationship with his 16-year-old female student.
  • A mother who allows her 14-year-old son to smoke marijuana at home.
  • A father who encourages his 12-year-old daughter to shoplift from a store.
  • A babysitter who fails to report to the law enforcement that her employer’s 10-year-old child is being abused by his stepfather.
  • A neighbor who watches pornographic movies with his 15-year-old nephew.

Delinquent, Truant, And Dependent Of The Juvenile Court

You face a PC 272 violation charge when you cause or encourage a minor to become a delinquent child, habitual truant, or even dependent of the juvenile court. In California, "delinquent child" refers to one who violates criminal law or engages in disobedient, indecent, or immoral conduct. A delinquent child is usually in need of rehabilitation. For example, if you teach your 13-year-old nephew how to pickpocket people on the street, you make him a delinquent offender.

A habitual truant is a child who has missed school without a valid excuse for more than three days in one school year. A habitual truant could face the consequences such as counseling, probation, fines, or community service. For example, allowing your 15-year-old son to skip school regularly and hang out with his friends makes him a habitual truant. If arrested, you could face charges under PC 272.

A dependent of the juvenile court is a minor who faces abuse, neglect, abandonment, or exploitation by their parents or legal guardians. The court could place a dependent of the juvenile court under the care and supervision of social services or foster care. For example, if you fail to protect your 10-year-old daughter from her abusive stepfather, the court could take the child away from you and give their custody to foster parents.

Possible Penalties For A Penal Code 272 Violation

A Penal Code 272 violation is considered a misdemeanor in California. Therefore, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you could face different sentencing and punishments, including:

     1. Penal Code 272 (a) (1) - Contributing To The Delinquency Of A Minor

You face charges under Penal Code 272(a)(1) if you do anything that causes or encourages a minor to become or remain a juvenile delinquent. For example, you are guilty of a PC 272(a)(1) violation if you give alcohol or drugs to a minor, encourage them to skip school or run away from home, or expose them to sexual activity or pornography.

Possible penalties for Penal Code 272 (a) (1) violations are:

  • Serving up to one year in jail
  • A fine of up to $2,500
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Undergoing counseling

     2. California Penal Code 272 (b) (1) Person Over 21 Persuading A Minor (Under 14) Away From Home Without Parental Consent

Under Penal Code 272 (b) (1), a violation involves luring or transporting minors under 14 away from their parents or guardians without their permission. You face charges for this violation if you are over 21 years old at the time of your criminal commission. An example of a California PC 272 (b) (1) violation is taking a child to another state or country after offering money or gifts to entice them or using deception or coercion to influence the child.

Penal Code 272 (b) (1) violations are punishable by:

  • A fine not exceeding $250 for a misdemeanor offense.
  • Serving up to six months in county jail.
  • Misdemeanor probation.

Legal defenses to Penal Code 272 PC

If you are accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the law allows you to challenge this accusation using a legal defense. The legal defense aims at showing that you are not guilty of the crime or that there are mitigating factors that reduce your culpability.

Legal defenses you could use to fight your charges are:

You Did Not Know The Person Was Under 18

You could use this defense if you reasonably believed the person was an adult based on their appearance, behavior, or identification. For example, if you gave alcohol to someone who showed you a fake ID that indicated they were over 21, you can use this as a defense in court.

You Could Not Reasonably Control A Child

Arguing that you could not reasonably control a child under your care or supervision is applicable if you made reasonable efforts to prevent or stop a child from engaging in delinquent behavior, but they disobeyed or resisted your authority. For example, if you tried to stop your teenage son from skipping school or using drugs, but he ran away from home or lied to you, the court cannot find you guilty of a PC 272 violation.

You Were Falsely Accused

Defending your charges using this defense holds water if someone lied or exaggerated about your involvement to harm your reputation, cover up their own wrongdoing, or gain an advantage in a legal dispute. For example, if your ex-spouse accused you of exposing your child to pornography during a custody battle, but they had no evidence to support their claim, the court cannot find you guilty. So, you could use this defense to fight the false accusation.

Note that each case is unique and requires careful analysis and preparation by an experienced defense lawyer.

Penal Code 272 Conviction Expungement

Conviction expungement is a legal process that allows you to clear your criminal record of certain offenses after you have completed your sentence and probation. Expungement can benefit you by improving your employment, housing, and educational opportunities.

The good news is that PC 272 convictions are eligible for expungement under Penal Code 1203.4 PC. This means that if you meet the required requirements, you can petition the court to remove your conviction history. These requirements are:

  • You have completed your probation or obtained early termination of probation.
  • You have paid all fines, restitution, and fees ordered by the court.
  • You are not currently charged with, on probation for, or serving a sentence for another offense.
  • Your offense was not a felony that resulted in a state prison sentence.

If the court grants your expungement petition, your PC 272 conviction will be expunged, and you will no longer have to disclose it on most applications. However, expungement does not completely erase your criminal record. Your conviction will still show up on certain background checks by law enforcement agencies or licensing boards. Expungement also does not restore your gun rights or revoke any immigration consequences.

Related offenses to Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

Offenses that could be charged in lieu of or along with a PC 272 violation include the following:

Furnishing Marijuana To A Minor – California Health and Safety Code 11361 HS

An HS 11361 violation happens when you give, sell, administer, transport, furnish, or offer marijuana to a minor or child. In California, violation of Health and Safety Code 11361 is considered a felony offense that can result in a prison sentence of up to seven years.

Furnishing Alcohol To A Minor – Business and Professions Code Section 25658 BPC

You are guilty of furnishing alcohol to a minor if you sell, furnish, or give away any alcoholic beverage to persons under 21. If arrested for a BPC 25658 violation, you face a misdemeanor charge. Upon conviction, possible punishment could include serving a six-month jail term or a fine not exceeding $1,000.

However, if someone suffers great bodily injury or death as a result of furnishing alcohol to a minor, the penalty can increase to one year in county jail or 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison.

Sending Harmful Material To A Minor – California Penal Code 288.2 PC

California Penal Code 288.2 criminalizes sending or exhibiting any harmful matter, such as obscene images, videos, or texts with sexual content, to a minor to arouse themselves or them sexually. If found guilty, the possible punishment includes serving not more than one year in county jail or a fine that does not exceed $1,000. The possible punishment is a three-year prison sentence or a fine not exceeding $10,000. Additionally, you must register as a sex offender for life if convicted.

Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me

If you are facing criminal charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Los Angeles, find a skilled defense lawyer as soon as possible. A criminal defense lawyer can protect your interests and fight for the dismissal or lowering of your charges.

Experienced lawyers advise that you remain silent and ask for a lawyer upon arrest. Only talk to the police or anyone else with your lawyer present. Anything you say can be used against you in court. At the Law Office of Sara L. Caplan, we are the go-to law firm if you are seeking a top-notch criminal defense lawyer near you.

We boast over two decades of experience handling criminal cases. Also, we understand how the California judicial system works and how to challenge the prosecution's evidence. If you work with us, our attorneys will tirelessly defend your rights and reputation. Call us today at 310-550-5877 for your case review and legal counsel.