Category Archive: Juvenile Law

Legally Homeschooling in California

Legally homeschool in California

In light of recent legislation surrounding parental rights and child vaccination laws many parents are looking for alternative schooling options aside from public school education.

One such option which protects parental rights and avoids vaccination requirements is  homeschooling. Homeschooling in California and across the country is gaining in popularity every year with more and more parents choosing the freedom to educate their children over the rules and laws associated with public education.

If you are considering the option of homeschool for your children in California there are some basic guidelines and rules you should be aware of. Compared with other states, legally homeschooling in California is easy and relatively free of regulation.

Homeschoolers in California have two options for home educating their children. The first option is to file as independent homeschoolers. This is the most independent of the two options for legally homeschooling in the state. Under this option you must file an affidavit declaring your homeschool as a independent private school. Filing dates for this option begin October 1st each year and close two weeks later on the 15th. Along with this option you must maintain grades and attendance reports for each of your school age children. In California, each child must attend school or comply with homeschool laws if he or she turns 6 by September 1st through their 18th birthday.

If you choose to homeschool as a private school you must comply with the eight following requirements:

  1. File annual private school affidavit
  2. Maintain an attendance record
  3. Instruct in English
  4. Instructors must be capable of teaching
  5. Provide instruction in the courses commonly taught in public environments
  6. Maintain immunization records or personal belief exemptions
  7. Maintain a list of course studies
  8. Maintain a list of teacher information

For more information regarding these requirements, please visit HSLDA CA Law

The second option to legally homeschool in California is to enroll your children in a homeschool charter school. These charter schools file all of the necessary paperwork on your behalf, maintain grade reports and attendance records. Using this option you will be required to submit vaccination forms. Often times charter homeschools give each of their families a curriculum budget to purchase necessary materials to teach their children at home. Charter schools also often times have class days for their students which provides parents an opportunity to include enrichment activities in their child’s schooldays. Charter class days also provide the opportunity for parents to have another teacher instruct their student in subject that they are not comfortable teaching such as higher level math or advanced science programs.

For additional information regarding legally homeschooling in California please visit

HSLDA

National Center for Life and Liberty

 

About the author:

Alexis Mathews is a veteran homeschooling mother of 6 children. She enjoys introducing families to the benefits of homeschooling. In addition to teaching her children, Alexis helps online business owners build their brand and increase their social media presence at Premier Executive Media.

UNLAWFUL SEX BY YOUR TEENAGER

Learn how to protect and educate your teen about unlawful sex. JuvenileLawCenter.com

It is unlawful in the State of California for any girl/boy under the age of 18 to have sexual intercourse unless the minor is legally married. If your minor is having sex with another minor and the boy/girl is 14 or older and within three years of age of her partner, it is a misdemeanor offense. If the minors are within three years of age of each other and engage in certain sexual acts like oral copulation or digital penetration, they can be charged with felony offenses. If there is more than a three year age gap, they are both engaging in felony offenses. If the girl is under the age of 14, it is a felony offense even if the partner is within three years of age of the girl. Most parents and teenagers do not know these laws regarding sex. Your sons and daughters are not taught this in their sex education classes in the State of California.

What can parents do if their teenager is engaging in unlawful sexual acts? Assume your 13- year-old girl is inviting an older boy into her bedroom, without your consent, and you believe they are engaging in sexual intercourse. Anyone who enters a residence with intent to commit theft or any other felony is committing burglary, which is a felony. Your daughter has no right to consent to allow anyone to enter your home to commit a felony or any act of theft. Your daughter’s partner knows you the parent are not consenting to their coming into your home to see your daughter. Call the police and tell them this boy is committing a burglary and what they are doing. Demand the police follow-up on your complaint. If the police will not take action, you can request a Civil Restraining Order from the Superior Court in your local area to restrain the boy from entering your home and having any contact with your daughter.

Assume your daughter is 14 or older and the boy you do not want her to see is an adult, over 18. Do you do the same thing? Even if they are within three years of age, they are most likely engaging in felony sex acts and the man/boy is committing a felony when he enters your home to have sexual relations with your daughter. He knows you the parent, the owner or renter of your home, do not consent to his coming into your home for that purpose.

It is our experience that more girls, even those under the age of 14, are getting onto their cell phones and their computers “sexting” sexual pictures of themselves to boys they are interested in or to chat rooms where people chat and exchange private sexual photos. Generally the man/boy will then ‘sext’ sexual photos back to your daughter. In a number of instances, in-person sexual encounters follow. Once again this type contact is against the law in the State of California and can only lead to destructive type behavior. Just possessing “sexting” photos on your cell phone of underage minors can lead to disastrous consequences if seen by school or police personnel.

Firm rules about cell phone and internet use and supervision by you the parent need to be in place before permitting your teenager to have a cell phone. You must regularly check their phones’ text messages and content. Establish parental controls.

Please review our pro blogs on these issues:

Teen Sexting

Increase Punishment for Sex Offenses by Juveniles 

Enticing Someone Under the Age of 18 to Engage in Sexual Activity Can Result in a Mandatory 10 Year Sentence

INCREASED PUNISHMENT FOR SEX OFFENSES BY JUVENILES

Andries law in California increases the punishment for sexual offenses committed by juveniles.

Audries Law, effective January 2015 in California, increases punishment for juveniles who sexually assault an unconscious victim do to their intoxication. A 15-year-old high school student was sexually assaulted at a house party. She was unconscious at the time. The perpetrators, 15- and 16-year-old boys, took photos of the assault with their cell phones and shared them with their classmates. The girl found out about this and killed herself.

The law expands the list of offenses for which the public and press may attend juvenile proceedings. Those now include sexual offenses against another where that person is prevented from resisting due to being rendered unconscious by any intoxicating, anesthetizing, or controlled substance, or when the victim is at the time incapable, because of a disability, of giving consent, and this is known or reasonably should be known to the person committing the offense.

A minor charged with such a felony offense is precluded from eligibility to petition the court for Deferred Entry of Judgment. The Legislature has elevated the seriousness of the charges for such an offense as equivalent to a list of the most serious offenses for which a minor can be excluded for consideration by the court for Deferred Entry of Judgment. The Juvenile Court in determining how the offender(s) should be punished can consider the seriousness and circumstances of the offense, the vulnerability of the victim, the minor’s criminal history and prior attempts at rehabilitation, the sophistication of the minor, the threat to public safety, the minor’s likelihood of re-offending, and any other relevant information presented. The court may order sex offender treatment, commit the minor to Juvenile Hall, a ranch, a camp, or a forestry camp. It may order the minor be sent to a long-term residential facility for treatment and supervision.

What does “unconscious at the time” mean? Does the victim have to be literally unconscious? In ruling on cases where an adult has been convicted of rape by intoxication, the courts have not required the victim to be literally unconscious. It is not enough that the victim was intoxicated to some degree or that the intoxication reduced the victim’s sexual inhibitions. The mental impairment must have been so great that the victim could no longer exercise reasonable judgement concerning the issue.

Most parents and their minors do not know that any lewd or lascivious acts, sex acts with minors under the age of 14, even consensual, are felony offenses and can lead to very serious consequences for their minors. It is illegal for any minor, under the age of 18, to engage in intercourse and other specified types of sex acts, even if consented to by both minors. The victim does not have to be intoxicated or have a disability. If the court finds the victim comes within the meaning of Audries Law, the offending minor(s) will face enhanced consequences for their offense. Please review our blog on Sex Between Minors.

NEW JUVENILE RECORD SEALING LAW ENACTED IN CALIFORNIA

New California Document Sealing Law

Effective January 1, 2015, California Senate Bill 1038 enacted a new law allowing most minors in Juvenile Court who have satisfactorily completed probation, probation without wardship or informal handling, and who appear before the Juvenile Court after January 1, 2015, for their termination hearing to have their records sealed immediately by the court. No longer do they have to wait until they are 18 or older or, if under 18, five years must have passed since their last arrest or when they were last on probation. Further, they do not have to pay a sealing fee to the court. The newly enacted legislation is found in the California Welfare and Institutions Code section 786.

EXCEPTIONS:

The exception to the law is for minors, fourteen years of age or older, who had admitted to Welfare and Institution Code section 707(b) offenses. The new law would not apply to them. Section 707 (b) lists thirty types of offenses that are covered by this section. In general, it refers to the most serious type of offenses such as murder, arson, robbery, sex offenses where force is found to be true, and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury as a felony. Offenses such as first degree burglary, burglary of a residence, is not a 707(b) offense. If there are any questions whether the minor’s offense is a 707(b) offense, the parent/juvenile should consult with an attorney knowledgeable in juvenile law.

The new law does not apply to juveniles who had their cases terminated for satisfactory completion of probation, probation without wardship, or informal handling prior to January 1, 2015. At this time, those juveniles must comply with Welfare and Institutions section 781. The juvenile must wait until they are 18 or older or, if under 18, five years must have passed since their last arrest or when they were last on probation. Further, under 781, the court required the juvenile to pay a sealing fee. That can be waived if there is proof of inability to pay.

The difference in the sealing laws for minors pre and post January 1, 2015, could change and the parent/juvenile should check later in the year with a knowledgeable attorney to see if the courts or legislature have corrected the differences.

707(b) OFFENSES

If a juvenile did admit to a 707(b) offense in Juvenile Court and they were fourteen years of age or older at the time of the offense, there is still some hope to petition to get their record sealed. They could file a petition pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 782 to request of the court to dismiss their case in the interest of justice. If the court does dismiss the 707(b) petition, the juvenile can petition to seal their record pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 781.

We highly recommend all juveniles with juvenile records get their records sealed. Perhaps the police detained your minor and investigated a case concerning your minor but no charges were filed in Juvenile Court. Perhaps the case was handled informally by probation and no charges were filed in Juvenile Court. Your minor still has a juvenile record with the police agency that investigated the case and the local juvenile probation department. Even though they were never charged in court, they need to get their record sealed with all agencies that had any connection with their matter.

 

THE ADULT BEARS TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR A SEX OFFENSE WITH A MINOR

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A judge in Montana made inappropriate comments about a 14-year-old student who was the victim of sexual intercourse without consent. A 47-year-old high school teacher had pleaded guilty to a sex offense with the 14 year old.

In Montana, a minor under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to sexual intercourse. The judge made comments to the effect that the minor shared some of the responsibility. The Montana Supreme Court rightly censured the judge for his comments. In California, minors under the age of 18 cannot consent to sexual intercourse unless they are emancipated.

The person who bears total responsibility for the offense is the adult teacher. He absolutely knew his conduct was criminally and morally wrong. There is no excuse for his behavior.

There are important lessons for all family members to learn from these types of cases.
Men, women, and adolescents can easily become attracted to vulnerable minors if they socialize with them, spend enough time with them, and/or seek emotional and sexual comfort from them.

Keep a healthy distance from forming social relationships with minors.
Men, women, and adolescents can become attracted to minors. That attraction can lead into a sexual relationship. The more an adult socializes with the minor, the minor becomes another person to them that they can relate to, talk to, joke with, and become attracted to. The adult slowly starts treating the minor as another adult. Their psyche is not telling them this is a minor and to keep your hands off and come to your senses. The minor responds favorably to the adult/older adolescent’s attention. The minor wants to be kind, nice, and responsive to the adult. The minor likes the attention thinking they are something special. Remember at all times when dealing with a minor/younger adolescent that a judge, police officer, or a prosecutor is standing behind you watching what you are doing.

Teachers, coaches, youth ministers, clergy, Boy Scout/Girl Scout leaders, and tutors must be aware the more time they spend alone with a minor the greater the chance the relationship could expand into something sexual and very wrong. An adult can quickly lose sight of the fact they are dealing with a minor.

We read about men and women being prosecuted for sexual conduct with minors. In a number of cases it is a coach, youth minister, Boy Scout/Girl Scout leader, tutor, teacher, babysitter, big brother/big-sister or clergy. Headlines such as the following have appeared in local media: “Oxnard high school teacher accused of ‘sexting’ student”; “Butte County Deputy Arrested for ‘Sexting’ Minor”; “Teacher Accused of Exchanging ‘Sext’ Messages, Graphic Images with a 13-Year-Old Student”; “Long Beach Cop Allegedly Sexting with Minor He Met on the Job”; “Sexting by assistant football coach draws lawsuit”; “Santa Maria teacher accused of sexting student”; “Hummer Mom Makes First Court Appearance”–this 42-year-old mother was accused of having sex with boys who were barely teenagers when it started; “Parents ‘Shocked’ About Sexting Allegations”–a female high school soccer and lacrosse coach in Poway, CA, was accused of sending harmful matter to a minor and communicating with a minor with the intent to commit a sexual act.

Suggestions to avoid finding yourself being criminally prosecuted, losing your job, your profession, your marriage, and your good character:

1. Do not socialize with minors. If you are a teacher, coach, mentor, big-brother/sister, music teacher, therapist, youth minister, tutor and you use email to communicate with the youth you are teaching/coaching/mentoring do it in a general email to all the students. Do not start private email conversations with any student, team member, boy/girl scout, youth group participant, or other groups you may be an adult for. Always remember when around youth, communicating with them, there is standing behind you the judge, prosecutor and police officer.

2. Do not invite a student/minor to your house. Don’t socialize with your students. Some teachers invite their students to their homes as a reward for being a good student. You are not the student’s buddy–you are their teacher. If you want to have a party for your students, make sure their parents are invited. Do not have it at your house. Make sure there are other teachers or adults present. Never be alone with a student or team member where there is not another adult with full view of you and the minor.

3. Do not give a student or team member rides in your car unless they sit in the backseat with another student. Do not let them sit beside you. You don’t want some allegation being made you touched them in some inappropriate way while driving. Under no circumstances allow a student to sleep in your hotel/motel room. Once again, you are vulnerable to one of them asserting you touched them inappropriately in the night when you thought they were sleeping.

4. Do not horse-play or wrestle with a student or team member. All it takes is an allegation you put your hand on their private area, near their private area, or touched their chests and the next thing is you are being investigated for child abuse charges.

5. If you are around minors on a regular basis as a teacher, coach, mentor, youth minister, tutor, or Boy/Girl Scout leaders insist your school, recreational league, or church put on yearly seminars to educate and assist you in protecting yourselves from being accused of inappropriate behavior with minors.

 

 

 

CHILD WELFARE SERVICE SAFETY PLANS CAN BE GOOD, CAN BE DECEPTIVE, OR CAN BE DEADLY

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When a child abuse report is made to the Child Abuse Hotline an emergency services worker is assigned to investigate the referral.  Depending on the threat level reported it might be an immediate visit to your home or a visit that takes place several days later.  The emergency protective worker (CPS) can, after investigating, leave your child in your custody but ask you to sign and agree to a Safety Plan.  If you don’t agree to the Safety Plan you are told they will most probably initiate a child dependency case in juvenile court and your children will be taken from your home.

Safety Plans Can Be Good

For example, the police are called to a home because of reported domestic violence between the parents.  There are minor children in the home.  They may or may not have witnessed the incident(s) between the parents.  The father was arrested and taken to jail.  He may face criminal charges.  The Child Protective Services (CPS) worker will want to make sure the father, if he bails out of custody, does not return to the home and further violence take place.  The mother may be requested to get a Family Court restraining order against her husband.  The mother will be told there can be no visits by the father with the children until some form of supervised visitation can be arranged and those visits cannot supervised by mother.  Mother is told the Safety Plan is for 30 days.  In the above scenario the alleged abusive parent could have been the wife.  These types of scenarios, whether for domestic violence, drugs, alcohol abuse, someone else in the home causing violence, sex and physical abuse allegations, or mental health concerns, play out on a daily basis in our communities.  As a general rule, if the police are called to the home and there are minor children in the home that might potentially be at risk a child abuse referral will be made by the police to the local CPS agency.

Safety Plans Can Be Deceptive

In the above scenario, if the mother agreed to the Safety Plan the children will  remain with her for the time being.  What the mother is not told is the plan she signed is a Temporary Safety Plan. CPS has no intention of walking away from this family at the end of 30 days. Safety Plans generally are for six months and depending on the progress of the family can be re-initiated for another six months.  If the family refuses to sign up for another six months, the CPS agency is likely to start juvenile dependency proceedings in the local Juvenile Court and allege your children are at risk in your home and most likely try to have them removed.

The first CPS worker to come to the home is an emergency response worker.  They will turn your case over to another CPS worker who will then start the interview and evaluation process all over again.  If the second CPS worker and their supervisors are okay with the initial Safety Plan, they will have the family sign a second Safety Plan.  This second Safety Plan document will not have anything on it saying it is for 30 days.

Safety Plans Can Be Deadly If Violated

A number of families are lulled into believing that once the 30 days of the initial Safety Plan have passed that the family can reunite and everything is the same as it was before.  WRONG!  Because CPS workers don’t reside in your home they want to make sure you are abiding by the terms and intent of the Safety Plan.  As soon as they see you are violating the terms or intent of the plan, they can stop the process, take your children, report to the court you were offered a Safety Plan and that you intentionally violated it.  You say the 30 days had passed, nobody specifically told me my husband, wife, son, or whomever was asked to leave, could not return home so I let them back in the home.  You will be told you should have known better so too bad.  You are told another CPS worker would be contacting you.  Without waiting to be contacted, you should contact CPS to ask what you should do. They will say you let the offending parent or other person back in the home or allowed them to visit the children when you were told they could not.  We cannot trust you or your judgment.

What Should A Parent Do?

1.  You want to keep custody of your children.  Co-operate with and agree to the Safety Plan.  Abide by the conditions no matter how unfair you think they may be.  Don’t be fooled into thinking the Safety Plan is only for 30 days.  Until a CPS worker tells you it is allowed, do not start allowing something you agreed not to do.  If you lose temporary custody of your kids to CPS and the Court, you could end up losing them for good.  If you cannot reach your CPS worker or have not heard from one since the initial visit, call the CPS office.  Talk to a CPS Supervisor to find out whose is assigned to your case and what you should do.

2.  Consult with an experienced lawyer who deals with these kinds of cases.  Call your local Lawyer/Attorney Referral Service and get a recommendation for a lawyer(s).  Generally they will do a brief free consultation with you on the phone.  Until the case gets to court you will not have the services of an appointed lawyer/public defender to assist you.  Many CPS workers will tell you if the matter gets to court there are court assigned lawyers who can help you.  The most crucial time for help is when you get that first visit from a social worker and sign that initial Safety Plan.  You desperately need good advice as to how you should proceed with CPS.

3.  Safety Plans can be modified as you and your family progress in services.  Seek consultation with an experienced lawyer to assist in trying to get the plan modified.  CPS has guidelines for their workers as to how to handle specific types of cases.  They can be rigid, onerous and seem very unfair to many parents.  In many domestic violence cases, the parents are told they must split up, get a restraining order, have no contact between them, and the father/mother cannot visit the children unless CPS or someone they choose supervises the visits.  Parents without legal consultation think their situations do not warrant such burdensome/unfair conditions and sneak visits.  CPS will find out.  They will then take your kids and you will have a much steeper uphill battle getting them back.  Far too many cases, when parents violate the Safety Plans, end up with the parents losing their parental rights and their kids being put up for adoption.  Don’t be fooled by misinformation or taking too lightly what is being required of you.

CIVIL LIABILITY FOR NEGLIGENT STORAGE OF FIREARMS

shotgun

Michael C., age 16, left his home in California shortly after 8:00 p.m. He took the family car, some credit cards, and his father’s Swedish Mauser military rifle equipped with a telescopic sight. About 6:00 the next morning he stationed himself on an overpass and started to fire at the passing vehicles. He shot and killed three people and wounded others. Michael then put the rifle to his head and killed himself.

Michael’s parents and Michael’s estate were sued for damages. It was alleged that Michael’s parents were negligent in making firearms available to Michael. It was further alleged they were negligent in their training, supervision and control of Michael. For the purposes of this blog, we will address the allegation of negligent storage of firearms.

Negligent Storage Of The Rifle In A Locked Cabinet

Michael’s father kept his rifle and its supply of ammunition in the family garage in a locked cabinet. Michael knew where the two keys to the cabinet were located. He used one of the keys to obtain the rifle.

A published California Appellate Court opinion addressed the legal issues presented by the above facts. The court permitted the case to go forward to a jury on the issue of Negligent Storage of the Rifle. The court set forth the following general principles in its decision: 1. “A…rifle is a lethal weapon whose sole function is to kill human beings and animals of comparable size. A person dealing with a weapon of this kind is held to the highest standard of care;” 2. “A majority of other jurisdictions have considered it actionable negligence for a person to leave a firearm in a place where he should foresee it might fall into the hands of a child.”

Absolute Liability For Permitting A Minor To Have A Firearm Or
Leaving A Firearm In A Place Accessible To The Child

In addition to the parents being sued for negligent safeguard of a firearm, the parents are subject to an additional basis for liability. California Civil Code section 1714.3 adopted by the California legislature in 1970 makes a parent liable in an amount up to $30,000.00 for injury or death to one person proximately caused by the discharge of a firearm by his child if the parent permitted the child to have the firearm or left it in a place accessible to the child. The amount can be $60,000.00 if more than one person was killed or injured. This is described as absolute liability and negligence does not have to be proved.

Grandfather Liable For Leaving Loaded Gun In An Unlocked Dresser Drawer

The opinion also referenced a case in Pennsylvania where a grandfather was held liable for injuries inflicted by his grandchild with a loaded gun which the child found in the grandfather’s bedroom in an unlocked dresser drawer. The court in Pennsylvania found the grandfather has a duty to exercise extraordinary care to see no harm would be visited upon others as a consequence of his conduct.

 

ENTICING SOMEONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 TO ENGAGE IN SEXUAL ACTIVITY CAN RESULT IN A MANDATORY TEN-YEAR SENTENCE

lost

The Ninth Circuit Federal Appeals court just upheld the mandatory minimum sentence of a 45-year-old man for the attempted enticement of a minor to engage in “any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense.” He was convicted of one court of 18 U.S.C. section 2422(b). Congress enacted the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to specifically prohibit the enticement “using the mail or any facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce, or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdictions of the United States knowing persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years, to engage in prostitution or any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than 10 years or for life.” Since the enactment of the Act, the United States Congress has increased the penalties for this offense three times. The last time was in July 27, 2006, to “life in prison and increasing the mandatory minimum to ten years.”

This man’s offense took place in Oregon. Under Oregon state law his conduct would be a misdemeanor offense. How can he also be charged under federal law? If one commits a state offense which also could be a federal offense, one could be prosecuted in either jurisdiction (Federal or State) or both. More and more possession of child pornography charges are being prosecuted in the Federal courts because the judges in the Federal courts, following Federal Sentencing Guidelines, are imposing lengthy prison sentences for these offenses. It is not that the State courts don’t take these offenses seriously, but most of these type offenders are first time offenders with jobs and families, and are very likely to do very well on probation and not repeat the same offense again. Offender specific therapy is very successful and, for the safety of the community, they don’t need to be placed in prison for years at taxpayer expense. Congress wants to impose lengthy prison sentences, despite the background of the defendant, for these type offenses.

What did this man do? He approached a 16-year-old girl he had seen at his kid’s school in a store. He told her he thought she “looked nice.” He sent her a “friend” request on Facebook. The girl wisely told her father. Her father reported this to the local police. The FBI got involved and had one of their agents pose as the girl on Facebook. An instant message account was established on a Yahoo! email account. The defendant sent messages enticing the girl to have sex with him. Eventually a meeting was set up where the defendant arranged to meet the girl at a train station. The defendant went to the train station to meet her and was arrested. The girl did not go to the train station. When arrested he had alcohol and condoms on his person. He was charged with one count of online enticement of a female minor. The defendant had been reported before to the local police for sending sexually explicit messages to another 16-year-old girl and to an 18- year-old girl, but he was not prosecuted for those incidents.

The defendant can be any age. He or she could be a juvenile or over the age of 18. How many juveniles are using the internet, instant messaging, texting, using Facebook and other social media sites to entice and solicit sexual activity? People say things by text, on Facebook, in email and on social media sites they would never say in person. If your minor under the age of 18 was Federally charged for this offense, they would be tried under the Federal Juvenile rules and laws. They probably would not be facing a ten-year mandatory prison sentence but could face severe custodial and other sanctions. If they are 18 or over, they are facing the same penalties as this defendant.

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?

1. Talk to your minors. Talk to your spouse or significant other and discuss cases like this. The defendant in the above case has a family. He is now facing a minimum sentence of ten years in a Federal penitentiary.

2. Supervise your minors texting, their Facebook page, Instant Messaging and other social media sites. Put parental controls in place to block sexual material. Please review our prior blogs on these subjects.

3. Do not permit your minors to restrict you from having access to the above. If they will not permit you to regularly review and supervise what they are texting, sending and posting, don’t allow it or pay for it.

 

WHAT IF YOUR CHILD HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF SEXUAL MISBEHAVIOR WITH A MINOR UNDER 14 OR IF YOUR CHILD IS THE VICTIM OF SEXUAL MISBEHAVIOR

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Most parents will want to immediately rush their minor to a therapist for counseling.

Yes, your minor definitely needs professional counseling–but wrong first move. The therapist must make a referral to the local Child Welfare Services of any reported child abuse. The police are also automatically informed of the report.

We recommend you immediately consult with an experienced juvenile or criminal attorney in your area who has experience with these kinds of cases. Why? The attorney does not have to report the allegation to Child Welfare Services or to the police. There are approved, experienced therapists in your local area that the juvenile probation services and the juvenile courts use for therapy in these kinds of cases. You want your minor seen by one of these experienced therapists. The attorney can consult and refer the family for therapy, psychological evaluations, and other services that will give the minor the best chance to present well to the authorities when the matter is referred to Child Welfare Services. You want, if possible, to avoid your child being arrested and placed in juvenile custody. If they are engaged in approved therapy programs, placed away from having contact with their victim/s, and doing well in school and the community, the courts are more likely to permit them to remain out of custody while their court proceedings take place. Child Welfare Services will generally not remove the minor from the home if there are no younger minors at risk of molest.

We do not recommend you avoid getting therapy for your minor who has abused someone or your minor who may have been a victim. It is our experience this can backfire later in life when the consequences for both the abuser and the victim can be far worse than if handled properly at the beginning of the case. For example, your son was 15 years old when he molested a younger child. It was not reported to Child Welfare Services or to the police until the victim, who is now 18 years old and in therapy, discloses it to their therapist. Your son who is now over 18 will be prosecuted as an adult. The sentence as an adult will be far worse than that as a juvenile. They will be facing lifelong sex registration requirements. If handled as a juvenile, they most probably would avoid a sex registration requirement. If your minor was a victim and if therapy is delayed, they will have many issues in early adulthood that can lead to lifelong problems.

MINORS CAN AND DO COMMIT SEXUAL ABUSE

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If your minor under the age of 18 willfully and lewdly touches the body of a child under the age of 14 and the touching was done with the intent to arouse, appeal, or gratify the lust, passions, or sexual desires of your child or the other child, they are guilty of a felony offense.

Minors today have access to viewing graphic sexual conduct on the television, the internet, and in videos. They no longer have to get a “smut” magazine and secretly view it. From our experiences boys and girls entering the seventh grade become very interested in sex. This is understandable at their ages. They will chat, post, share pictures, talk about sexual contact, and experiment in sexual acts. We all know it is much easier to say and share things in text messages, emails, and on social media sites that one would not do in person. Two of our prior blogs discuss the dangers of modern technology and why parents must actively supervise their minors’ smart cell phones and other technological devices that have internet coverage.

One of our prior blogs describes what is legal and not legal for minors to engage in. We are frequently called in to consult and represent minors when a 10 year old or older is accused of lewdly touching a child a year or more younger than themselves. This can be an older brother or sister sexually touching a younger sibling or step-sibling. It frequently involves younger children of friends or relatives. The minor might be a babysitter or just someone who wants to experiment with a sexual act. This will be done when they have access to a younger minor and are out of sight of the parents.

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO HELP MINORS AVOID
SEXUAL MISBEHAVIOR WITH YOUNGER CHILDREN

Talk to your children about good and bad touching. Keep reminding them as they get older about good and bad touching. Impress upon both sexes the importance of reporting any improper touching by adults or other kids.

If you are uncomfortable having this talk, enlist the help of an uncle or aunt or other relative that can have this frank talk. It needs to be repeated until the adults are very comfortable the message has been received.

If you are starting to get more concerned and worried about your minor and their sexual interests, enlist the help of an experienced attorney in juvenile and criminal law in your area who can clearly outline for your minor all the terrible things that can happen if they engage in lewd behavior with minors under the age of 14 as a juvenile and certainly as an adult. Sexual offenses are considered extremely serious and can have a life-long impact on ones life.