New law makes parents liable for kids’ crimes

New law makes parents liable for kids’ crimes

If your child commits a property crime, you could be made to pay up to $10,000 under Ontario legislation that took effect August 15, 2000.

The Parental Responsibility Act applies to crimes committed by children under the age of 18.

The law makes it easier for victims of property crime to sue the parents of young offenders by placing the onus on parents to show they are not responsible for the damage caused by their children. The act applies in Small Claims Court where claims cannot exceed $10,000.

To avoid liability, a parent must show:

  • the loss or damage caused was not intentional
  • the parent exercised reasonable supervision, and
  • the parent tried to prevent the damage

Before the act takes effect, the victim of a crime who sues a parent for damage caused by a child has to prove the parent was negligent.

Some 20,000 cases heard in Ontario youth courts in 1998 involved property crime.

A similar law in Manitoba allows for recovery of up to $7,500. Unlike the Ontario law, however, it does not contain a reverse onus provision.