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Parental Liability for Crimes of their Children

In 2009, there were 4,301 juveniles charged with acts of delinquency in Marion County. See Kids Count in Indiana 2010 Data Book, Indiana Youth Institute, In many of these acts of delinquency, someone is injured or property might be damaged. Indiana law allows the victim of these crimes to recover money damages from the parents of those children. See Ind. Code § 34-31-4-1:

Except as provided in section 2 of this chapter, a parent is liable for not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) in actual damages arising from harm to a person or damage to property knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly caused by the parent’s child if:

(1) the parent has custody of the child; and

(2) the child is living with the parent.

In section 2, there is no limit on the amount a parent must pay if the child is a member of a gang, and the parent "actively encourages or knowingly benefits from the child’s involvement in the criminal gang." This law can be reviewed at

If you have been victimized by an act of juvenile delinquency, contact the police. To recover the damages from the crime, consider filing a claim in small claims court against the parents, or consult a lawyer on how to bring a claim.

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