Contributing to the delinquency of a minor can lead to harsh penalties in Nevada.

What is the legal definition of Contributing to the delinquency of a minor?

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is defined in NRS 201.090, 201.100, and 201.110.

NRS 201.090 – “Neglected child,” “delinquent child” and “child in need of supervision” defined.

As used in NRS 201.100 and 201.110, unless the context otherwise requires, a “neglected child,” “delinquent child” or “child in need of supervision” means any person less than 18 years of age:

  1. Who is found begging, receiving or gathering alms, or who is found in any street, road or public place for the purpose of so doing, whether actually begging or doing so under the pretext of selling or offering for sale any article, or of singing or playing on any musical instrument, or of giving any public entertainment or accompanying or being used in aid of any person so doing.
  2. Who has no parent or guardian, who has no parent or guardian willing to exercise or capable of exercising proper paternal control, or who has no parent or guardian actually exercising such proper paternal control, and who is in need of such control.
  3. Who is destitute, or who is not provided with the necessities of life by his or her parents, and who has no other means of obtaining such necessities.
  4. Whose home is an unfit place for the child, by reason of neglect, cruelty or depravity of either of his or her parents, or of his or her guardians or other person in whose custody or care the child is.
  5. Who is found living in any house of ill fame, or with any disreputable person.
  6. Who is found wandering and either has no home, ho settled place of abode, no visible means of subsistence or no proper guardianship.
  7. Who frequents the company of criminals, vagrants or prostitutes, or persons so reputed, or who is in any house of prostitution or assignation.
  8. Who unlawfully visits a saloon where any spirituous, vinous or malt liquors are sold, bartered, exchanged or given away.
  9. Who habitually uses intoxicating liquors or who uses opium, cocaine, morphine, or other similar drug without the direction of a competent physician.
  10. Who persistently or habitually refuses to obey the reasonable and proper orders or directions of his or her parents, guardian or custodian, or who is beyond the control of such person.
  11. Who is a habitual truant from school.
  12. Who is leading, or from any cause is in danger of leading, an idle, dissolute, lewd or immoral life.
  13. Who writes or uses vile, obscene, profane or indecent language, or is guilty of indecent, immoral or lascivious conduct.
  14. Who violates any law of this State or any ordinance of any town, city or county of this State defining a crime.
  • Any child who is a runaway, unmanageable or a habitual truant is a child in need of supervision as that term is used in title 5 of NRS, and is not a delinquent child.

NRS 201.100 – How offense may be termed.

When the charge against any person under NRS 201.090, 201.100 and 201.110 concerns the neglect of a child or children, or the problems of a child in need of supervision, the offense, for convenience, may be termed “contributory neglect,” and when it concerns the delinquency of a child or children, for convenience it may termed “contributory delinquency.”

NRS 201.110 – Definitions; penalties; exception.

  1. Except as otherwise provided in this section, any person who commits any act or omits the performance of any duty, which act or omission causes or tends to cause or encourage any person under the age of 18 to become a “neglected child,” “child in need of supervision” or “delinquent child,” as defined in NRS 201.090, 201.100 and 201.110 or which act or omission contributes thereto, or any person who, by any act or omission, or by threats, command or persuasion, induces or endeavors to induce any person under the age of 18 to perform any act or to follow any course of conduct or to so live as would cause or manifestly tend to cause any such person to become or to remain a person who is a “neglected child,” “child in need of supervision” or “delinquent child,” as defined in NRS 201.090, is guilt of contributory neglect or contributory delinquency. Contributory neglect or contributory delinquency is a misdemeanor.
  2. A person does not commit a violation of subsection 1 by virtue of the sole fact that the person delivers or induces the delivery of a child to a provider of emergency services pursuant to NRS 432B.630.

This seems like a very vague crime. What does it really mean?

You are correct. It is an extremely vague crime. This is, of course, done on purpose to allow prosecutors the ability to decide when they want to charge someone.

There are basically two elements to the crime of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor:

  • Any person commits an act, or fails to perform some duty; and
  • The act or omission has the tendency to cause a minor to become or remain a “delinquent child,” “neglected child,” or “child in need of supervision” as termed by the Court system.

What do you mean by “tendency to cause a minor to become or remain a delinquent”?

Essentially, committing any act or failing to perform an act, that causes a minor to break a law, or to become a “neglected child,” is a violation of NRS 201.110.

The definitions of “delinquent child,” “neglected child,” and “child in need of supervision” include:

  • Minors who are begging or otherwise receiving or gathering alms;
  • Minors who are receiving money as a street performer or selling goods on the street or some other public place;
  • Minors who have no parent or guardian willing or capable of exercising parental control;
  • Minors who are destitute or who are not provided with the basic necessities of life;
  • Minors who live in a home unfit for children (whether because of neglect, cruelty or depravity of the other members of the household;
  • Minors who are found living in brothels;
  • Minors found living with any disreputable person;
  • Minors found to be homeless with no means of subsistence or guardians;
  • Minors who have frequent contact and company with criminals, vagrants, or prostitutes;
  • Minors who unlawfully visit business where alcohol is sold or given away;
  • Minors who habitually drink or use recreational drugs;
  • Minors who refuse to adhere to rules set by their parents or guardians;
  • Minors who are habitually truant from school;
  • Minors who are leading, or in danger of leading an idle, or immoral life;
  • Minors who use indecent language or is guilty of indecent conduct; or
  • Minors who violate any law or ordinance of the State.

Any child that is found to fall into any of the above categories is considered a “delinquent child,” “neglected child,” or a “child in need of supervision.”

Is there anything else I should know?

You should know that “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” is a charge that is often used as a plea bargain in more serious crimes. Prosecutors often use “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” as a means of a getting a guilty plea in circumstances where they believe a harsher charge exists, but conviction will be more difficult.

What are the possible penalties?

“Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor” is a misdemeanor, which means it carries possible penalties of:

  • Up to 6 months in jail; and/or
  • Possible fines up to $1,000.

Are there any Defenses?

Yes. Defenses to “Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor” are highly specific to your individual situation, and are only applicable in very specific situations. Some of the possible defenses may include:

  • No Intent to contribute to a minor’s delinquency – In some rare instances, it can be a defense to state that you had no idea that the person you were assisting was a minor.
  • Parental Consent – Generally only applicable to minors consuming alcohol, parental consent can be a defense when a minor is given a glass of wine with dinner at home or a sip of wine as part of a religious ceremony.
  • Uncontrollable child – In some rare situations, it can be enough to show that you are doing everything in your power to control a minor under your guardianship but that the minor is uncontrollable. In other words, that you were not “contributing” to the minor’s delinquency.

What should I do if I’ve been charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor?

As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.

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