Adults sometimes lead children toward a path involving criminal activity.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, depending on the circumstances, contributing to the delinquency of a minor can be a serious crime with serious consequences.
You Can Go to Jail if Convicted
The long and short of it is that if you could go to jail if convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Oklahoma. Depending on the activity involved, you could be jailed for a long time.
Penalties vary depending on the activity involved and on the number of previous convictions. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 856
A first offense of contributing to the delinquency of a minor is most often charged as a misdemeanor crime. It is punishable by up to a year in jail, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
A second offense is a felony crime. A conviction could lead to up to three years in prison, or a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
However, if the crime committed by the child would be a felony if committed by an adult, any adult who enables the crime can receive the maximum sentence for that felony.
For example, if an adult has enabled a child to commit a robbery—a felony in Oklahoma— that adult can be convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. However, he or she will be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison (the maximum sentence for robbery in Oklahoma). Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 798
Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor Defined
It is against Oklahoma law to knowingly or willfully cause, aid, abet, or encourage a minor to become a delinquent child.
This crime can involve buying alcohol or drugs for a teenager on a Saturday night, but can include a lot more than that. It also includes other things that may lead to a child engaging in a life of crime as an adult.
This statute covers a large number of possible injurious interactions between an adult and child. It includes any action or encouragement of delinquency from encouraging or helping a child smoke or drink to knowingly encouraging or aiding a child to become involved in any sort of gang activity.
Any of the following acts involving a child can result in a criminal conviction:
- Associating with criminals or immoral persons.
- Taking a child to a brothel.
- Taking a child to a casino or other gambling establishment.
- Taking a child to a bar, alcohol distillery, warehouse, or other location at which alcohol is sold.
- Engaging a child in the use or sale of alcohol.
- Exposing a child to, or involving a child in, pornography.
- Engaging a child in indecent or lewd exposure or other sexual acts.
- Helping a child run away from his or her parent or legal guardian.
- Helping a child engage in any sort of illegal drug activity.
Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 857
Runaways: A Special Case
A runaway child is defined as an unemancipated minor who voluntarily leaves home without a compelling reason, without consent, and without the parent’s knowledge.
In most cases, helping such a child to run away from home is a crime. However, there are times when aiding a runaway child is not constituted as contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Oklahoma.
Helping a child run away who has been the victim of incest; is experiencing an imminent danger to their health or safety; or has been equally traumatized or threatened with harm to their physical, emotional, or mental health is an exception to the law.
However, if you decide to help a child in such danger, you must also make sure to notify the Oklahoma Department of Human Services or local law enforcement of the child’s location within 12 hours of helping the child.
If you or a loved one are facing charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, make sure to get the help you need. There may be defenses open to you. Help is just a phone call away.
Free Consultation with a Tulsa Criminal Defense Attorney
We are here to help when you need it most. We offer a free consultation with an experienced Tulsa criminal defense attorney.
Call Wirth Law Office – Tulsa at 918-879-1681 or toll free at 1-888-Wirth-Law (1-888-947-8452). You can also submit the question form at the top right of this page.