What Constitutes Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor?
If you are charged in the State of Nevada with contributing to the delinquency of a minor (or “CDM”), you must be advised and represented by a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer, and you must contact that lawyer immediately.
In Nevada, what constitutes contributing to the delinquency of a minor? What are your rights if you are charged with CDM? What are the defenses against the charge, and what are the penalties for a conviction? What will a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney do on your behalf?
If you’ll keep reading this discussion of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and your rights under Nevada law, you will find the answers you may need.
What Does Nevada Law Provide?
An adult in Nevada who has allegedly persuaded or helped a minor (someone under 18 years of age) to break the law may be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Specifically, someone may face a CDM charge if that person allegedly causes a minor to:
- beg on the streets or another public place
- have no guardian or parent to exercise parental control
- refuse to obey a parent or a guardian
- be destitute or lack the necessities of life
- live in a residence that is not fit for a child, live in a brothel, or be homeless
- keep company with vagrants or criminals
- visit a saloon or consume drugs or alcohol
- be routinely truant from school
- lead an idle, lewd, immoral, or dissolute life, or behave indecently or immorally
- break the law
A contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge differs from a child abuse charge, which usually involves directly inflicting psychological, physical, or sexual harm on a child.
Under What Circumstances Can CDM Be Charged?
In Nevada, it is almost too easy to find yourself charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Parents, guardians, and caretakers of children must be vigilant at all times.
For example, a parent could be charged with CDM if a child commits a computer-related crime online, and field trip chaperones could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor if youths obtain alcohol on a field trip and drink it, for instance, in a cabin or a hotel room.
What Penalties May be Imposed for a CDM Conviction?
Although CDM is a misdemeanor, because it involves children, it is not unusual in Nevada for a judge to order a convicted CDM offender to serve time in jail along with paying a fine. If you are guilty of CDM, a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer will negotiate to keep you out of jail.
However, if you are innocent of the charge – and if your attorney cannot have the charge dropped or the case dismissed – you should insist on a jury trial, where your attorney will tell the jurors exactly what happened and explain to the jurors why they should find you not guilty.
If you are a professional in Nevada, a CDM conviction may trigger disciplinary action by your state licensing board. If you are not a U.S. citizen, a CDM conviction could prompt a deportation proceeding if the court determines that you committed a crime of moral turpitude.
What Are the Defenses Against a CDM Charge?
The common defenses against a contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge include:
- The CDM accusation is false: Sometimes the wrong adult is arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and charged by accident. False accusations – by an ex-spouse or a spouse who is seeking a divorce – can also happen in CDM cases.
- Delinquency did not happen: By itself, lazy or poor parenting doesn’t necessarily constitute contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Regularly feeding junk food to kids or letting them watch television all day is not a good idea, but it is not a crime.
- The parent was merely exercising his or her parental rights: Parents in Nevada have the right to impose reasonable punishment on their own children.
What Other Laws Protect Nevada’s Children?
A number of other laws protect this state’s children. Providing alcohol to someone who is under 21 years of age is a misdemeanor in this state. Allowing a minor to have a firearm is also a misdemeanor, but if the minor brandishes or discharges the weapon, the charge will be a felony.
Leaving a minor who is under 8 years of age in a vehicle – with keys in the ignition or otherwise potentially hazardous conditions – is also a misdemeanor in Nevada.
If a child is under 16 years of age and a perpetrator is five or more years older than the child, luring a child – with the intent to take the child without a parent’s or guardian’s consent – may be charged as a gross misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the details of the incident.
What Should You Do if You Are Charged With CDM?
If you are placed under arrest and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, contact a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney at your first opportunity. Do not even think about acting as your own attorney. The law is too complicated, and too much will be at stake.
If the police want to interrogate you, don’t let them. Anything you say could be twisted or misinterpreted and used against you. Simply say something like, “I would prefer to exercise my right to remain silent until my attorney can be here,” and then say no more.
Your attorney will investigate the charge, examine any evidence, question any witnesses, and fight the charge aggressively and effectively on your behalf. A conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and your attorney will cast doubt on the state’s case against you.
What Else Should You Know About Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor?
About ninety percent of CDM cases are resolved when the prosecutor drops the charge, when the court dismisses the case, or when a defendant accepts a plea bargain and pleads guilty to a lesser charge in return for a reduced sentence. Very few CDM cases go to trial in Nevada.
If you have been charged with CDM or a related crime like furnishing alcohol to a minor – or if you face one of these charges in the future – a prosecutor will already be working to convict you, so you must take the case to a reliable Nevada criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible.