Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a very serious charge in Virginia. If you or a family member is facing charges in Northern Virginia, take some time to read this article.
What is Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor in Virginia?
Virginia Code Section 18.2-371 defines Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. Specifically, anyone over the age of 18 is guilty when:
- Willfully contributes to, encourages, or causes any act, omission, or condition that renders a child delinquent, in need of services, in need of supervision, or abused or neglected; or
- Engages in consensual sexual intercourse or anal intercourse with or performs cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus upon or by a child 15 or older not his spouse, child, or grandchild.
The Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor statute raises many questions. Below are some issues to consider. Before going to Court, we recommend that you consult with an experienced attorney to better understand your rights.
What does “willfully contributes to, encourages, or causes” mean?
Virginia courts have considered what it means to “contribute to” or “encourage” delinquency. In the case of Bibbs v. Commonwealth, 129 Va. 768 (1921), a defendant claimed he was merely a “willing participant” when he engaged in sexual behavior with a minor. Rightly so, Virginia Supreme Court upheld his conviction.
In Peace v. Commonwealth, 2000 WL 1693428, a mother did not contribute to or encourage her son’s delinquency when he persisted to smoke marijuana in their family home. Because she told him multiple times to stop, the court refused to convict her.
What is “any act, omission or condition that renders a child delinquent, in need of services, in need of supervision, or abused or neglected?
Usually, contributing deals with an adult that is involved with a minor’s violation of criminal law. For example, providing a minor drugs or alcohol, helping them steal property, possess a firearm, or commit an assault.
However, other acts can give rise to a contributing charge. For example, in Kilby v. Commonwealth, 52 Va. App. 397 (2008), the Court upheld a mother’s conviction when her child was sexually abused. Prior to the abuse, CPS informed the mother that the child was in danger of abuse from family members. In response, the mother denied the danger and prohibited CPS from monitoring the situation.
Section 18.2-371 clearly prohibits sexual relations between an adult and a minor over 15. Indeed, where an adult is is facing such a allegation, they can expect additional charges too.
What are the consequences of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor in Virginia?
In Virginia, Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor is a Class I Misdemeanor. A Class I Misdemeanor is any offense for which you can be incarcerated for a period of up to twelve (12) months, receive a fine of up to $2,500.00, or both. While these are maximums, the actual jail time and fine you receive depends on the underlying facts of the case, your record, and other variables.
Given that Contributing to the Delinquency of a minor deals with a minor victim, the Court can impose additional penalties to include no contact with the victim, required counseling and educational courses to prevent further violations of law, and other conditions.
A conviction can also have collateral consequences such as cause issues with immigration status for non-US Citizens and issues with Security Clearances for those that have them. This is in addition to other unforeseen consequences.