Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor – California Penal Code 272

The crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor is described under California Penal Code 272. This statute is basically a catch-all crime that prohibits a variety of unlawful behavior. For example, it criminalizes persuading a minor under 18 years old to commit a felony crime.

In other words, PC 272 prohibits someone to cause or allow minors to engage in criminal behavior, such as inducing or enticing them to break the law. For example, let’s say you encourage a minor to commit shoplifting, give them alcohol, or to engage in unlawful sexual activity. You could face charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

This crime also occurs when someone acts, or fails to act, resulting in a minor becoming a dependent of the California juvenile court system, juvenile delinquent, or a habitual truant.

A dependent child can be a minor from an unfit home, lacks supervision from parents, a danger to the public, or a victim of physical or sexual abuse. A delinquent child is any minor who breaks the laws by committing a crime.

Also, the related statue California Penal Code 272(b) makes it a crime for an adult to make contact with a minor under 14 years old with intent to lure them away from their parents.

A common PC 272 example includes a situation where an adult assists a minor in getting alcohol or drugs. Also, it includes a situation where an adult persuades a minor to be a lookout while they commit a crime, such as burglary.

To give readers a better understanding of contributing to the delinquency of a minor laws, our California criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.

Definition of Penal Code 272 Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

California Penal Code 272 defines the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor as:

Anyone who commits an act or omits performance of any duty that causes or encourages a minor under 18 years old, or which act or omission contributes to, by threats, or persuasion, induces any minor, or dependent child of the juvenile court to refuse a lawful order of court, is guilty of a misdemeanor offense.

This means you can be charged with PC 272 contributing to the delinquency of a minor if you commit an act, or fail to perform a duty, that encourages a minor to become a dependent of the juvenile court, a delinquent, or a habitual truant.

Committing an act, or failing to perform a duty, means parents or legal guardians have a duty to exercise reasonable care and supervision of the minor.

In order to be found guilty of PC 272 contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the prosecutor has to prove you acted, or failed to act, with general criminal intent or criminal negligence. See CALCRIM 2980 Jury Instructions.

It should be noted that it’s not required that you had intent to break the law. Criminal negligence is described as acts that are reckless to a point where it created a high risk of great bodily injury or death.

Causing a Minor to Become a Dependent of the Juvenile Court

California penal Code Section 272 states that causing a minor to become a dependent of California’s juvenile court system can apply for many different reasons. Including if the minor is:

  • A victim of child neglect, child abuse, or sexual abuse
  • Suffers suffer emotional damage after mistreatment
  • Subjected to acts of cruelty
  • Left without any means of support

A dependent of the juvenile system is a minor where the court made the decision to intervene and act as their guardian. This is commonly seen in cases where the Los Angeles County Child Protective Services decides it necessary to remove a minor from their home after alleged neglect or abuse.

A habitual truant means the minor refuses to obey reasonable rules from their parents, violates curfew, or have over 4 unexcused absences from school.

Luring or Transporting a Minor Under 14 Years

California Penal Code Section 272(b) makes it a crime to lure or transport a minor under the age of 14 years. If you are 21 or older, you could face charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, if your transport or lure, with no pre-existing relationship.

In order to be convicted of PC 272(b), the prosecutor has to prove you knowingly communicated with a minor under 14 years old, with intent to persuade, lure, or transport them away from their parents or legal guardian without consent. Also, see CALCRIM 2982 – Persuading, Luring, or Transporting a Minor 12 Years Old or Younger.

It should be noted you can’t be guilty of luring or transporting a minor under 14 years old unless you are an adult and a stranger to the minor. Also, you must be at least 21 years old and have no relationship with the minor, or established a relationship for in order to make them a victim.

Penalties for PC 272 Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

If convicted of Penal Code 272, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, it’s a misdemeanor crime. The penalties include penalties include up to 1 year in a county jail, a fine up to $2,500, and summary probation.

If convicted of Penal Code 272(b), luring or transporting a minor under 14 years, it’s also a misdemeanor crime. The penalties include up to 6 months in a county jail, a fine up to $1,000, and summary probation. If charged as an infraction only, the penalty includes a fine up to $250.

Penal Code 290 Sex Offender Registration

If convicted of PC 272 (b), contributing to the delinquency of a minor, or luring a minor under 14 years old, and it involved engaging in lewd or lascivious conduct towards the minor, you might be required to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code 290.

Normally, you will be facing PC 290 mandatory registration if your conduct was intended for sexual gratification. If ordered to register as a sex offender, you will be required to register your home address every year with a local police station. If you fail to follow these conditions, you could face a new charge of failure to register as a sex offender.

Related California Offenses for Penal Code 272

Health & Safety Code 11361 – Furnishing a Minor with Marijuana
Penal Code 288.2 – Sending Harmful Material to a Minor
Penal Code 653(b) – Loitering at School
Business & Professions Code 25658 – Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

Defenses for California Penal Code 272

Our criminal defense attorneys can use a wide range of strategies to fight your case of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Common defenses include:

False allegation

False accusations are not uncommon as minors will sometimes make up stories of a crime against another person out of anger or revenge. On a similar note, adults can also make false allegations of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in an attempt to use it as an advantage in a child custody case. We might be able to prove the allegations are false.

Reasonable belief they were not a minor

Minors often appear or act much older than their actual age. We might be able to make an argument that you had a reasonable belief they were an adult. Minors often lie about their age or have fake identification. We can argue that since the minor concealed their real age, you can’t be guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

If you have been accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in violation of California Penal Code 272, call our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to review the case and options.

Cron, Israels & Stark is a criminal defense law firm located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We also have an office located at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (424) 372-3112.