Financial burden parents could face if juvenile charged in business vandalisms

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As several Sioux Falls business owners continue to repair the damage done to their business, investigators continue to work to identify the people responsible for Sunday night’s vandalism, but these future lawsuits could reach further than the perpetrators.

“Yes there was destruction done this weekend, but now that the dust is settled, people are going to start to be held accountable because of the video evidence that’s available to hold these juveniles accountable,” Attorney Scott Abdallah said.

Former Lincoln County States Attorney Scott Abdallah says in this state, damages caused by juveniles can also extend to their parents.

“I think most parents in South Dakota don’t realize that if they have a child under the age of 18 living with them, and that child goes out and commits vandalism or destroys property, that that parent can be held liable, civilly under the law, for up to $2,500 for the damages caused, even if the parent played no part and had no know,” Abdallah said.

In South Dakota, a business owner can also chose to bring a civil case against the juvenile offender for damages.

“If the business gets a judgment against that child, even though the child can’t pay it maybe at the age of 16, judgments are usually good in South Dakota for up to 20 years, so that judgment could follow that child into their adulthood,” Abdallah said.

In addition to the civil lawsuits juvenile vandals could face, many could also face criminal charges.

“If your child is charged criminally in juvenile court, you have an option, you can go hire a lawyer, and that’s going to cost a lot of money to go and defend your child,” he said.

While hiring a private attorney can be very expensive, even a public defender can come with a hefty price tag that parents have to pay. 

“Ultimately parents have an obligation to repay the system for that court-appointed lawyer. Either way, it’s an expensive endeavor if you’re charged criminally,” Abdallah said.

The state has set the billable rate for a court-appointed attorney at $98 and hour. For defendants under the age of 18, their parents are responsible for paying that bill. The county can even put a lien on the parent’s property until it is paid. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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