Brief Fact Summary. The State sought to impose vicarious criminal liability on the parents of minors who drove snowmobiles in violation of state a statute.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Any attempt to impose liability on the parents simply because they are parents without more, violates the due process clause of the state constitution.
Issue. Whether parents of minors can be held criminally accountable for their children’s offenses on the basis of their parental status.
Held. Parents cannot be held criminally responsible vicariously for the offenses of their children.
The legislature has not specified any acts/omissions that would make a parent vicariously responsible for the acts of their children. Acts or omissions, which are to be the basis of criminal liability, must be specified in advance.
Any attempt to impose liability on parents, simply because they are parents without more, violates the due process clause of the state constitution and punishes parenthood, which is contrary to public policy.
It is well settled in this jurisdiction that the Legislature may declare criminal a certain act or omission to act without requiring it to be done with intent.View Full Point of Law