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¡No Se Deje!
The laws of the United States and of the various states clearly hold people responsible for the acts of others and for failing to act responsibly. Employers are required to pay for injuries and damage caused by their employees while in the course of employment. Parents are required to pay for damage or injury caused to others by their minor children. And, owners of cars are required to pay for injuries and property damage caused by drivers they have authorized to use their vehicles.
In the area of criminal law, the consequences can be much more serious and costly as demonstrated by the California case of People vs. Rolon. In that case, the mother of a one year old child was convicted of DEADLY ASSAULT, MURDER, and AIDING AND ABETTING for FAILING TO PERFORM HER PARENTAL DUTY TO PROTECT HER CHILD. The mother allowed the child’s father to stay with them, even though she knew that a court order prohibited him from living with them having unmonitored contact with their children.
During an unannounced visit by a Social Worker, the mother lied about the father’s presence in the home. The court determined that for the next three days the mother failed to protect the child from repeated beatings by the father while trying to stop him from crying. By lying to the Social Worker, the mother intentionally assisted the father to avoid detection and removal from the home. This enabled him to continue to beat and ultimately kill their child.
The court explained that under the Common Law, a parent has a duty to protect his/her children and that failing to do so does constitute “Aiding and Abetting” the perpetrator to cause the harm to the children. Therefore, the parent that fails to protect his/her children is also guilty of the crime. The court also stated that the INTENTIONAL CONDUCT IN SUPPORT OF THE ABUSER CAN ESTABLISH LIABILITY FOR IMPLIED MALICE MURDER.
Parents, especially mothers, must be very careful not to do anything that enables anyone, even the other parent, to harm their children. As this case clearly illustrates, even if a parent does not harm the child directly, criminal punishment can be imposed for NOT PROTECTING THE CHILD. The mother should have refused to allow the father to stay with them and should have called the police if he refused to leave. And, she definitely should not have lied to the Social Worker.
For families that are struggling financially or for undocumented immigrants, it can often be very difficult to report the criminal acts of a parent. They understandably fear that the abuser’s arrest and result in loss of income and even deportation. This of course would have a devastating effect of the ability of the rest of the family to survive.
As difficult as this reality is, we can now see that the alternative to reporting the abuser can be far worse. In the Rolon case, both the abusing father and the non protecting mother will now be in prison for many years. The children will have to be raised by others and will live their lives knowing that their father killed their brother and that their mother did nothing to help. What’s worse is that she actually did assist and enable him to do it. Parent must always protect their children. That is the law and that is what is right. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.