Are Parents Responsible for Their Child's Crimes?

According to statistics from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, over 50,000 juveniles are arrested in Texas or referred to the juvenile probation system every year. In the state of Texas, a minor between the ages of 10 and 17 years can be charged with a juvenile crime. However, depending on the type of offense and other surrounding circumstances, a parent may be held civilly liable for some of their child's crimes.

If your child is under investigation for an offense and you want to understand your parental liability and potential consequences, consulting with a highly skilled Texas criminal defense attorney immediately is imperative. Attorney Tom Cox is dedicated to offering experienced legal guidance and reliable representation to parents facing criminal allegations due to their children's actions. He can fight aggressively to defend you and your child's legal rights and strategize an effective defense to maximize the best possible outcome for your case.

The Law Office of Thomas R Cox is proud to serve clients across Dallas, University Park, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Irving, Dallas County, and Highland Park, Texas.

Parental Responsibility Laws

Being a parent carries several legal responsibilities. Texas parental responsibility laws were enacted to ensure that parents and legal guardians are civilly liable for the destructive or harmful actions committed by their children.

Pursuant to Texas Family Code Section 41.001, a parent or other person who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of a child is liable for any property damage proximately caused by:

  • The negligent conduct of the child if the conduct is reasonably attributable to the negligent failure of the parent or other person to exercise that duty, or
  • The wilful and malicious conduct of a child who is at least 10 years of age but under 18 years of age

To Whom Do They Apply?

In Texas, parental responsibility laws apply to:

  • The parents of a minor child
  • The custodial parent
  • The legal guardian


Under Texas Family Code Section Sec. 41.001, a parent is liable for their child's negligent conduct that results in property damage. For instance, if a teenager kicks a ball against someone's car, and in the process, destroys the car's windscreen or window, the child's parents or guardian would be held responsible for the damages.

Willful and Malicious Conduct

Willful and malicious conduct refers to actions or behaviors that are carried out "without just cause or excuse." If a child's conduct is considered reckless or involves gross negligence, the child's parents will be liable for property damages resulting from such reckless or grossly negligent conduct.

Possible Damages

According to Texas Family Code Section 41.002, "recovery for damage caused by willful and malicious conduct is limited to actual damages, not to exceed $25,000 per occurrence, plus court costs and reasonable attorney's fees." This means that the child's parent or legal guardian will be liable for:

  • The child or ward's willful and malicious conduct
  • The legal fees of the plaintiff
  • The court costs
  • A maximum of $25,000 in damages

Finding the Experienced Legal Support You Need

As a parent or legal guardian, you may be held civilly responsible for the actions of your children or ward in Texas. Unfortunately, defending yourself in these situations without detailed guidance or experienced representation can easily increase your possibility of suffering devastating ramifications. Therefore, if your child is facing any kind of criminal allegations, hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is paramount to protect your rights and build a strong defense.

Attorney Tom Cox has devoted his career to handling criminal cases and defending minor children, their parents, or their guardians facing criminal allegations. As your legal counsel, he will evaluate and investigate all of the facts of your case and determine an effective defense strategy for your unique situation. Using his extensive experience, Attorney Tom Cox can help you and your child navigate the Texas criminal justice system and refute the charges against you with factual evidence. Tom will dedicate every resource available to keep you out of jail and keep your record as clean as possible.

If you or someone close to you has a child facing criminal charges, contact the Law Office of Thomas R Cox today to schedule a simple case assessment with a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Tom Cox can provide you with the knowledgeable legal counsel and strong representation you need throughout every phase of the legal proceedings. The firm proudly serves clients throughout Dallas, University Park, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Irving, Dallas County, and Highland Park, Texas.

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