Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.
Melissa: A 15-year-old boy is facing dozens of charges including four counts of first-degree murder after a school shooting in Michigan last week. More recently, the teen’s parents were also arrested and now face charges of involuntary manslaughter as well. Here to help examine this issue is attorney Dan Dagostino from the law firm Martin, Harding, & Mazzotti. Dan, welcome back. So if the parents of the teen did not have an active role in the shooting or supplying the teenager with a weapon, why are they being charged criminally for the actions of their son?
Dan: The prosecution has a couple different versions here, two, actually. One is, the parents didn’t properly secure the weapon, meaning, keep the ammunition away from the weapon and not allow access to the child. The second is, you know, they’re saying there were warning signs that the parents should’ve known that he could’ve committed such a hostile act as what she did.
Melissa: So is there any sort of precedent for a law that holds parents responsible for their children’s bad behavior here in our state in New York?
Dan: Well, in New York, there’s no real precedent with regards to criminal action. However, there is precedent with respect to the property damage. If your child’s between 10 years old, but not older than 18 and he or she destroys property in a willful or malicious way, the parents can be held liable. There is some criminal law precedent in New Jersey, but none here in New York, just basically the property damage.
Melissa: Does Michigan have a law that holds parents accountable for failing to secure weapons around children?
Dan: Right? That’s what makes this so unique is Michigan has no law on the books. So they’re trying to, I guess, create precedent here. You know, we’ve seen so many active shootings, unfortunately, in schools, and universities, and colleges. So I think Michigan is trying to say, “Hey, you know what? We need to create something to help protect the people in our community.” You know, they do not have anything currently. Most states don’t have anything currently. New York, you know, criminally, parents can be held liable for not properly securing a weapon like they are alleging here, but not to the extent of the charges that they’re setting forth in Michigan.