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Proposed Florida bill to make parents liable for juvenile crime

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A proposed Florida bill, expected to make its second committee appearance Tuesday, would require children and their parents or legal guardians to pay damages for a loss caused by children who have committed crimes. It aims to make Florida parents take more responsibility over juveniles who commit a crime.

House Bill 0785  would also delete provisions absolving parents from their child’s offense in certain situations and removes duplicate language authorizing the court to require a parent or guardian to be responsible for any restitution ordered against the child, according to the Florida Senate.

The measure could look a little different after concerns surfaced. Parents who do not pay for damages could have a lien placed on their homes or have their driver’s revoked.

Republican Rep. Dave Hood said he opposes strict liability on parents and questioned the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Dane Eagle.

“We’re putting responsibility on parents for kids that they had no ability to change,” Hood said. “Is there anybody in here who’s raised teeenagers?”

Eagle said he will work on concerns but keep the intent of the bill.

“One of the issues we see in our society today is lack of parental involvement, and that is what this bill is trying to do,” he said. “We can’t legislate personal responsibility. We can legislate personal responsibility when the kid is going through a criminal court system.”

The measure passed out of Florida House Criminal Justice Subcommittee 12-1, with a dissenting Democratic vote. The bill is expected to be heard in in the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday.

Jenna Lyons wrote this story online.

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