If your child commits a crime and causes property damage (or a crime that comes with other types of financial liability), you could be on the hook for paying for it. Here’s what you need to know about Wisconsin’s parent financial responsibility laws.
Are You Financially Responsible for Your Child’s Crimes?
As a parent, you’re subject to Wisconsin’s parent financial responsibility laws. If your child acts willfully, maliciously or wantonly, or even negligently, the state can hold you liable. A parent’s financial responsibility is currently limited under the law (although that can change at any time, so you should consult with an attorney for the most current information) – but it can be as high as $20,000 for damages in some cases.
Related: Delinquency petitions in Wisconsin
The state can hold you liable for things like:
- Property damage
- Repairing or replacing damaged property
- Removing graffiti
- The value of unrecovered stolen property
- Harm resulting from personal injury to another person
There’s another statute that imposes liability on criminal cases involving motor vehicles. Wisconsin Statute § 343.15(2)(b) says that if your child (or a child you’re responsible for) uses a motor vehicle in a negligent and willful manner, you face unlimited liability.
Related: CHIPS in Wisconsin
Which Parents Can Face Liability?
The state can hold you liable if you have legal custody of the child through a court order, custody that’s agreed upon under a legal stipulation or actual physical custody of a child. Obviously, if you didn’t have the reasonable ability to exercise supervision and control of the child (because the child is uncontrollable or because someone interfered with your ability), the law provides you with certain protections.
Has Your Child Gotten Into Trouble With the Law?
If your child has been accused of committing a crime, we may be able to help. Call our office at 414-383-6700 today to talk about your situation – we’ll answer your questions and give you the guidance you need.