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E. Gordon Peters, Jr Feb. 8, 2022

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a minor – a person less than 18 years of age – can be arrested for violating the law or committing a crime. Although, parents or legal guardians may not be held criminally liable for their child's actions. However, they may be held civilly responsible – sued in civil court – for property damages caused by the child's willful and malicious conduct. A knowledgeable Virginia criminal defense attorney can enlighten you about your parental liability and the potential consequences of your child's crimes.

Attorney Gordon Peters has the knowledge, diligence, and resources to guide and help parents facing criminal allegations due to their children's actions. As your legal counsel, he can review your case, seek to establish an in-depth investigation, and enlighten you about your rights and parental liability. Gordon can help protect you and your child's best interests, dispute the allegations, and help you achieve the best available outcome for your unique situation. The firm is proud to serve clients across Lynchburg, Blackstone, Amherst County, Campbell County, Bedford County, Charlotte County, and Nottoway County, Virginia.

Parental Responsibility Laws

Being a parent comes with a lot of legal responsibilities. Virginia parental responsibility laws were established to hold parents civilly responsible for property damages caused by the destructive, willful, or malicious actions committed by their children.

To Whom Do They Apply?

The Virginia parental responsibility laws apply to:

  • The parent or parents of a minor child

  • The legal guardian

  • The parent whom the minor lives with

A skilled attorney can enlighten you about Virginia's parental responsibility laws and strategize an effective defense to help fight your charges.

Virginia's Parental Responsibility Laws Statutes

According to Virginia Code Section 8.01-44;

"The owner of any property may institute an action and recover from the parents, or either of them, of any minor living with such parents, or either of them, for damages suffered by reason of the willful or malicious destruction of, or damage to, such property by such minor."


In legal terms, negligence can be described as a failure to act with the expected level of care, thereby resulting in personal injury or property damage. Under Virginia law, parents are not financially liable if their child accidentally or negligently causes property damage.

Willful and Malicious Conduct

Willful and malicious conduct involves actions or behaviors exhibited by a person without just cause or reasonable excuse. If a child acted willfully and maliciously, thereby causing damages to personal property, the child's parents will be held financially liable for their child’s willful and malicious actions. To recover damages, the property owner must prove that the child intended to damage the property.

Possible Damages

According to Virginia Code Section 8.01-44, the maximum amount of damages that may be recovered by the plaintiff (property owner) is $2,500. However, the provision of this law imposes the liability on the parent but does not remove it from the minor child.

Getting the Experienced Legal Support You Need

Parents and legal guardians in the Commonwealth of Virginia may be held civilly liable for the willful and malicious conduct of their child, which results in property damages. However, defending yourself in such situations without experienced guidance or representation could increase your possibility of suffering severe ramifications. Therefore, you need to retain a highly-skilled criminal defense attorney to protect you and your child's rights and help build your defense.

For over 20 years, Attorney Gordon Peters has devoted his career to defending and representing parents facing criminal accusations due to their children's actions. Using his extensive understanding of Virginia parental responsibility laws, Gordon can help guide you through every phase of the legal proceeding. He will seek to outline an effective defense strategy in pursuit of a favorable outcome and improve your chances of a brighter tomorrow.

If your child is under investigation for any offense, contact E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law, today to schedule a simple case evaluation. Attorney Gordon Peters has the comprehensive legal counsel and reliable representation you need in your case. The firm is proud to serve clients across Lynchburg, Blackstone, Amherst County, Charlotte County, Campbell County, Prince Edward County, and Nottoway County, Virginia.