Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty!  A Michigan jury recently found a parent of a school shooter guilty of 4 counts of involuntary manslaughter when her son, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, opened fire at a school, killing 4 students. 

This case has caused an uproar as it is the first of its kind that a parent is being prosecuted for the killings committed by their child.  The Michigan jury found Jennifer Crumbley guilty after listening to the evidence and determined that Jennifer provided her son a gun, taught the son how to use the gun, was the last parent to handle the gun, and did nothing to alert the school that her son may have a gun after she was called to the school after disturbing images were discovered by school officials, the morning of the shooting.  Moreover, testimony was provided that Jennifer was aware of her son’s mental health issues and failed to seek treatment for her son.   

Although parents can typically be held responsible for the actions of their children, this is the first case that holds a parent responsible for the killings committed by their child.  A parent in Arizona could face similar charges if this had occurred in Arizona and not in Michigan.  Pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-1103, Manslaughter, a Class 2 Felony, can be caused by “recklessly causing the death of another person.”  A person convicted of a Class 2 Felony faces a range of 3-12.5 years in prison for each offense. 

Food for thought:  This case lends itself to make this author wonder if the State is now interfering in a parent’s constitutional rights on how to raise their child.  If Jennifer had sought treatment for her son, would this be a different result? 

However, there is the other side to this argument to ask yourself what about the innocent victims and their families.  Shouldn’t parents who provide deadly weapons to their minor children be held responsible for what their child does with that gun while they are under 18 years of age? 

Regardless, there is no simple answer to these questions and in the end a community tragically loss 4 children. 

If you find yourself facing criminal charges and you need to know your rights, Dodge & Vega is willing to defend your rights.  We offer free 30 minute consultations with a knowledgeable and experienced trial lawyer.

-Ben Dodge