Michigan prosecutors are attempting to advance charges against the parents of a school shooter, claiming that the parents “should have known” that the boy had psychological problems due to his fascination with guns and disturbing drawings.
The idea that we all have the same set of values regarding weapons and horror art is not a smart position to take. Ultimately, the prosecutors need to convince a jury that parents would ultimately consider it within the realm of possibility that their child would commit a mass shooting. Parents rarely ever consider this. We will never know how many mass shootings were stopped by parental intervention, but it happens frequently enough to know that these parents are just as blindsided as the rest of society when their child commits an atrocity.
These parents are not getting a sick sense of satisfaction over the knowledge that their child is going to prison forever. They are devastated and their lives are ruined.
At present, the prosecution is making arguments as to why the parents should be charged with involuntary manslaughter. If the prosecution is allowed to move forward, prosecutors will be in uncharted waters. The basis for this prosecution is novel. While everyone has always wanted to hold the parents accountable for these crimes, prosecutors have not attempted to make these cases. This is among the first.
The Arguments Against the Parents
The parents are being accused of culpable negligence in the commission of a homicide. That means that they did not cause the murder, but they facilitated it in some way by failing to take action that could have prevented it.
In this case, the boy drew a picture of a gun with the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” The parents were informed about the drawing but failed to address the matter in any actionable way and allowed the boy access to a gun, which he used to kill others.
Why This Prosecution Works
Suppose your kid is not right, and his drawings look like cries for help. Depending on what state you live in, you have a duty to ensure that firearms are kept safe from minors. In this case, that duty of care is imposed by the law, so violating that law is actionable. It also opens up subsequent prosecutions depending on the severity of the crime committed with the gun. Since the crime was four murders, culpable negligence is established by statute, and the defendant pleaded guilty, the secondary prosecutions of the parents are actionable.
The kid could have been drawing pictures of kittens, and the fact that the gun was available to him would leave the parents responsible in Illinois.
Hence, without a gun safety statute, you are asking parents to predict their child is a school shooter. That will happen extremely rarely. No one believes what they do not want to believe. You can force responsibility on them, and they still will not see it coming.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
David Freidberg represents the interests of Chicago residents who are facing serious charges in Cook County. Call today to schedule an appointment at (312) 560-7100, and we can begin discussing your defense immediately.