It is a crime under Mississippi law for an adult to direct a minor to commit a crime. According to Mississippi Code Section 97-1-6,
any person over the age of seventeen (17) who shall direct or cause any person under the age of seventeen (17) to commit any crime which would be a felony if committed by an adult shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction shall be fined not more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) or imprisoned for not more than twenty (20) years, or both.
A potential twenty (20) year sentence gives this criminal statute plenty of “teeth.” However, this law is even tougher than it seems, as the defendant can also be charged with the actual crime that he directed the minor to commit. As an example, if an adult directs a minor to commit cyberstalking in violation of Mississippi law, the adult could be prosecuted under the Mississippi cyberstalking statute and for directing a minor to commit the crime. As a result, the defendant would be facing a potential sentence of twenty (20) years for directing the minor to commit a crime, and an additional two (2) years for cyberstalking. If these sentences were consecutive, the defendant would be looking at a total of twenty-two (22) years in prison.
Surprisingly, Mississippi appellate courts have only decided one (1) case involving a charge of directing a minor to commit a crime. In the case of Mamon v. State, 724 So.2d 878 (Miss. 1998), the Mississippi Supreme Court stated that the following acts constituted “directing” a minor to commit a crime:
(a) Conspiring with a minor by planning a crime;
(b) Giving a minor a gun to use in a crime;
(c) Instructing a minor on how to commit a crime;
(d) Helping a minor hide to avoid getting caught or arrested for a crime;
(e) Encouraging or soliciting a minor to commit a crime by telling him that he would not get in trouble because he is a juvenile;
(f) Having a minor load stolen property into a getaway car;
(g) Having a minor serve as a lookout man;
(h) Giving a minor latex gloves to prevent his fingerprints from being left at the scene of a crime; and
(i) Allowing a minor to help sell stolen property.
Directing a minor to commit a crime is a serious charge. If you’ve been arrested for directing a minor to commit a crime, remember that an arrest or charge does not automatically mean you will be convicted.
For more information, please contact Mississippi criminal defense lawyer Curt Crowley at 601.944.1984 to discuss your case, or visit our website at www.thecrowleylawfirm.com. Also, even though our office is located in Jackson, we also represent people charged with crimes in Brandon and throughout Rankin County.