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Parents Can Be Arrested for Their Kid's House Party

"Host Laws" hold parents accountable, even if they're not home.

Key points

  • When a teenager has a party with alcohol or drugs while their parents aren't home, the parents may face multiple legal charges.
  • Police find and bust teenage parties using various means such as neighborhood complaints and social media.
  • Laws against hosting underage drinking and drug use vary by state.

How do the police know that underage drinking or drug use is happening in your home even when you're away? It’s easier than you think.

Social Media

Teens are tech-savvy and love to show off. Well, thanks to social media, the police can know without even leaving their desks. Teenagers frequently post announcements or photos of friends drinking and drugging at parties. Most police departments troll for such information and officers are sent to the address.

Neighborhood Complaints

Partying teenagers aren’t known for being discreet. A phone call from a neighbor or a store owner with a noise complaint is all it takes to bring the police to your house to investigate.

Visible Signs of a House Party in Process

Multiple cars in your driveway, blasting music, all your house lights on or your front and back door open, all broadcast loud and clear that there is a house party in process. The police can shut down the party and wait for you to come home to arrest you.

Legal Consequences of Host Laws reports that a father in Connecticut warned his kids about drinking alcohol at a party at his house over Thanksgiving weekend. They didn’t listen. When the police arrived, the father was charged with 44 counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and received $110,000 in fines. Though the case is still pending, it's a real eye-opener and illustrates the serious legal consequences that parents could face.

Here are five outcomes that could happen when the police arrive at your kid’s party when you’re not home:

  1. You will be cited or arrested with a criminal Social Host charge, which is likely to be a misdemeanor.
  2. If the teens are drinking your liquor, you could also be charged with “Endangering the welfare of a child” and “Unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree."
  3. For each teenager, you are charged a count, which results in more fees or jail time. A second offense could mean facing up to a year in jail.
  4. If any teen is injured or dies on your property, you could face felony charges.
  5. Teens and even minors can be charged as Social Hosts, resulting in school suspension and loss of college acceptance or scholarships. If convicted, they could have a permanent criminal record.

Click to hear an audio sample of WHEN KIDS CALL THE SHOTS: How to Seize Control from Your Darling Bully—and Enjoy Being a Parent Again.

Laws vary in states, counties, cities, and communities. For more details check out to see the laws in your area.

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