Making a contribution to the delinquency of a minor is a more serious crime in Tulsa, Oklahoma than you might initially think. The crime includes the stereotypical buying of alcohol for a teenager on a Saturday night, but it also includes other things that may lead to a child engaging in a life of crime as an adult.
Enabling a child to break the law is one definition of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. And in Tulsa, doing so is a crime.
What is the Contribution to the Delinquency of a Minor in Oklahoma?
It is against the law to knowingly or willfully cause, aid, abet, or encourage a minor to become a delinquent child. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 856
This is meant to be a broad statute that can include many interactions between an adult and child. It includes any action or encouragement of delinquency, such as encouraging or helping a child smoke, drink, or engage in any other illegal act. The law also includes willfully or knowingly encouraging or aiding a child to become involved in any sort of gang activity— including joining a gang, drug running, theft, and the like.
Though we may not think about runaways as part of the class of people this statute is meant to protect, it also pertains to runaways. It is against Oklahoma law to aid a child who is running away from home. There are exceptions to this rule, however.
Runaway Children and When You Can Help
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 a child run away from home is a crime. There must be a compelling reason to help the child in order to avoid prosecution.
A compelling reason can include the threat of imminent danger to the health or safety of the child; incest; or an equally traumatizing threat to the child’s physical, emotional, or mental health. Actual cases of abuse can also qualify under the law.
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. This allows law enforcement to take over and absolves you of any liability.
What Does the Contribution to the Delinquency of a Minor Look Like?
The child involved must be under 18 years of age. Any of the following acts involving that child can lead to prosecution:
- Associating with criminals or immoral persons.
- Visiting a brothel.
- Attending casinos or other places that feature gambling.
- Taking a child to a bar or other location at which alcohol is manufactured, stored, or sold, or being engaged in the use of or sale of alcohol.
- Exposing a child to, or involving a child in, pornography.
- Engaging in indecent or lewd exposure or other sexual acts for any purpose.
- Helping a child run away from his or her parent or legal guardian.
- Helping a child engage in any sort of illegal drug activity.
Penalties for contributing to the delinquency of a minor vary depending on the activity involved and on the number of previous convictions.
A first-time offender usually is charged with a misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to a year in jail, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
A second offense is generally a felony charge. If convicted, you could spend up to three years in prison, or be fined 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 helps a child possess methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it, the adult could face up to life in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 63 § 2-401
Free Consultation: Tulsa Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are being charged with a crime in Oklahoma, it is important that you hire an experienced Tulsa criminal defense attorney. Criminal convictions can carry serious consequences.
Only a local attorney will know the court system and judges in the area. Do not delay. Our initial consultation is free.
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.
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