Legal Question in Criminal Law in Virginia

Can I get into any trouble for allowing my girlfriend's 16 year old daughter to move in with her 18 year old boyfriend she is doing so with her mothers consent but I don't know if its legal help please!

Asked on 7/20/10, 3:10 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Jonathon Moseley Moseley & Associates Law Firm

Well, from the few facts that you gave, I am not sure what you mean by "allowing." Technically, your girlfriend is responsible for her daughter, presumably with the father. I am not sure that you would ahve any responsibility for your girlfriend 'allowing" her daughter to move in with her boyfriend.

If you are actively involved in making it happen, then you might be accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. But because the girl is not your daughter, and you really have no right to decide what happens with her, I don't believe you have any responsibility unless you are actively involved in it.

In geenral, a 16 year old girl is old enough to consent to sex in Virginia so that this is not statutory rape, especially for a boy only 2 years older.

However, the 18 year old boy could be guilty of a softer misdemeanor of contributing to the delinguency of a minor. That is unlikely if the mother is not complaining. (But don't forget that the father could show up and get involved and make an issue out of it.) It is also unlikely if the girl is otehrwise safe and stable, continuing in school, drug free and alcohol free, under conditions that are good conditions. If she is not harmed or led into a depraved lifestyle, then he probably could not be charged with anything.

Also, note that there is no age limit on dating. The age limit is on sexual contact. Theoretically, if she iis living with the 18 year odl but not having sex, it is not illegal. (Assuming again that she is being well taken care of, well-fed, safe, healthy, in clean surroundings, etc.) Of course it is unlikely that they won't have sex. But you and your girlfriend would have to KNOW that they are having sex or probably having sex to have any possible issue at all.

If anyone could have any legal problem it would mainly be the boy, maybe your girlfriend.

I don't think anyone would get in trouble unless the conditions become abandonment of the girl so that she is not well-fed, healthy, in clean surroundings, safe, etc.

Read more
Answered on 7/20/10, 6:55 pm

Michael Sprano The Sprano Law Firm, LLP

In my opinion the following language (in 18.2-371) could be applicable: "Any person 18 year of age or older, including the parents of any child, who (i) willfully contributes to, encourages, or causes any act, omission, or condition which renders a child delinquent, in need of services, in need of supervision, or abused and neglected as defined in section 16.1-228 ..." is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. 16.1-228(1)(5) defines "abused or neglected", in part, as a child "who is without parental care or guardianship caused by the unreasonable absence ... of the child's parent, guardian, legal custodian ...."

A "child" is any person less than 18 years of old. Under the law, children require adult supervision. For a 16 year old this need not be constant (ok to leave for a night on occasion, for instance), but allowing them to live with an 18 year old friend (romantic or not) is an abdication of parental responsibility. While there would be possible defenses the criminal charge, I could see many judges finding those facts sufficient for a conviction based on the language cited above.

Criminal consequences notwithstanding, it is an absolutely terrible idea overall. I disagree with Mr. Moseley on the likelihood of court involvement. Kids being kids, it will be impossible to keep this a secret at school. As soon as a guidance counselor or teacher finds out, they will almost certainly report it to CPS, and if the child does not return home to parental care, CPS will take the case to court. A judge might well decide under those circumstances that if the mother is unable or unwilling to do her job, a foster care placement might be appropriate.

Read more
Answered on 7/22/10, 8:25 am

Related Questions & Answers

More Criminal Law questions and answers in Virginia