You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

letters

Being duped by their kids does not make parents criminals

Yvonne Abraham’s column accusing attorney Tracy Miner of criminal parenting shows naiveté about parenting and the criminal justice system (“Close call that shouldn’t be,” Metro, Jan. 27). Keeping teens safe is not as easy as it sounds. Teens are separating from their parents. When they or their friends engage in risky behavior, they don’t usually tell their parents, especially if their parents will disapprove. Loving parents who are law-abiding citizens and who do not permit their children to drink alcohol get duped all the time.

That is why Massachusetts law limits criminal social host liability to people who knowingly allow underage drinking in their homes. The requirement of proof of wrongful intent is the reason our jails are not full of parents snookered by their children or their children’s friends.

Continue reading below

Those of us experienced with the criminal justice system also know that not everything alleged in police reports is true or sufficient evidence of a crime. This is why Massachusetts law affords people accused of misdemeanors the right to appear before a court clerk and show cause why a criminal complaint should not be issued.

What is unusual about Miner’s situation is that she knew how to defend herself. Affording everyone a right to counsel at a clerk’s hearing would go a long way toward equal application of the law.

Sharon L. Beckman

Dorchester

The writer is associate clinical professor of law at Boston College Law School, where she is codirector of the Criminal Justice Clinic and director of the Boston College Innocence Project.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.