In this society, we protect our children until they can make wise decisions about their own lives and actions. That is why contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Oklahoma is treated seriously. Although the crime involves things such as an adult buying alcohol for a teen, it encompasses much more than that. Here is what you need to know about how the crime is dealt with in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Defining Contributing To The Delinquency Of A Minor In Oklahoma
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
A minor is anyone under the age of 18. The statute includes many kinds of interactions between a minor and an adult, including encouraging a child to break any law or engage in an action to encourage delinquency.
Contributing to a child’s delinquency can include such things as encouraging or helping a child smoke, drink, take drugs, or engage in any other illegal act. An adult is prohibited from encouraging a child to join a gang or engage in gang activities such as drug running and theft.
Finally, the statute also prohibits an adult from helping a child run away — at least in most situations. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
When And How To Help Runaway Children
There are situations when it is not prohibited to help a runaway child. 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 order to protect yourself from being prosecuted for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, there must be a compelling reason to help the child.
Compelling reasons include helping a child avoid physical danger or the threat of physical danger. However, it can also include helping a child escape incest or child abuse or anything else that threatens a child’s physical, emotional, or mental health.
You must also make sure to notify the 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.
Actions That Equate Contributing To The Delinquency Of A Minor
Any of the following acts involving a child can lead to prosecution under the law:
- associating with criminals or other immoral people;
- going to a brothel;
- attending casinos or other places with gambling;
- taking a child to a bar or other location involving 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; or
- helping a child engage in any sort of illegal drug activity.
Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 857
Penalties vary depending on the activity involved and on the number of previous convictions.
Usually, a first offense is charged as a misdemeanor in Tahlequah. It is punishable by a jail term of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
A second conviction is treated as a felony; it is punishable by a prison term of up to three years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
The stakes are higher if the crime committed by the child would be a felony if committed by an adult. In that case, the law imputes the crime to the adult. Any adult who enables the crime can receive the maximum sentence for that felony.
If you or a loved one are facing charges for this crime, make sure to get the help you need. Help from a Tahlequah attorney is a phone call away.
Free Consultation: Tahlequah Criminal Defense Lawyer
Please contact a Tahlequah criminal defense lawyer to discuss your available legal options if you’ve been charged with Oklahoma child abuse.
For a free consultation, call Wirth Law Office – Tahlequah at 918-458-2677 or toll free at 1-888-447-7262.
Or, if you prefer e-mail, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page and we’ll contact you by e-mail as soon as possible.