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Am I financially liable for damages caused by my child?

As a parent, you have likely spent a great deal of time trying to teach your child to obey laws and respect the rights of others. Unfortunately, sometimes a young person gets caught up in mischief that leads to the damaging of property. Such acts could result in your child being charged with a juvenile crime. And if the child is 18 years old or younger, you as a parent may be held financially accountable for damages.

Of course, the circumstances that lead a child to damaging someone else's property can vary greatly. Perhaps he or she gets in with the wrong crowd and acts out due to peer pressure. Or maybe the act was a response to issues or conflicts in the home. But in any case, when an incident occurs, the parents may also receive some degree of scrutiny.

A parent will be considered financially liable for an act committed by a child if it is determined that the parent was aware of the need to control the child but failed in taking reasonable steps to do so. Such a scenario falls under the legal theory known as "negligent supervision."

It is important to understand that if an act of vandalism or other form of property damage can be attributed to negligent supervision on behalf of a parent or guardian, then there is no dollar cap on liability.

If your child is facing charges of having committed a juvenile crime related to the damaging of property, it is important to discuss the matter with an attorney to ensure that your child's rights are protected. The attorney could represent your interests in regard to accusations of negligent supervision and can advise you regarding how to respond to any legal charges the child may be facing.

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