Beyond Age Limits: Parental Discipline as a Defense for Parents of Majority Aged Children

State v. Andazola, No. 125,166, 2023 WL 7405069 (Kan. Ct. App. Nov. 9, 2023).

Jack Atherton, Staff Editor

Issue: Is the parental-discipline defense to a domestic-battery charge available when the child is 18 years old, living at home, and attending high school?

Answer:  Yes.  Given these facts, the parental discipline defense is available.

Facts: Miguel was an 18-year-old high-school student who was living at home and working part-time.  One night, Miguel borrowed Andazola’s car and returned home at 2 a.m.  An argument ensued after Miguel refused to give Andazola the key to the car.  During the argument, Miguel cursed at Andazola and Andazola responded by slapping Miguel.

Andazola was charged with domestic battery.  The district court found that the parental-discipline defense did not apply because Miguel was 18 and Andazola was convicted of domestic battery.

Discussion: The Kansas Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s ruling, holding that Andazola had a right to present the parental-discipline defense under these circumstances.

Kansas courts have recognized the parental-discipline defense in previous cases,[1]  but the panel found no Kansas cases where “[a] court has provided the defense to a parent when their child is 18.”  However, the court noted that it also must consider the facts of the particular case when deciding whether a defense applies.  The court emphasized that Miguel was an 18-year-old high-school student who lived at home and worked part-time.

The court noted that no statutes prohibit using the parental-discipline defense when the child is 18 and stated that the statute was silent on the matter.

Furthermore, not all rights of a person change once that person turns 18.  For example, a person must be 21 before they can legally buy and drink alcohol.  The court found it significant that Kan. Stat. Ann. § 41-727(e) “recognizes a parent’s authority for furnishing their child with beer” before the child turns 21 because it shows that a parent’s control over their child “is important and does not automatically end” after that child turns 18. 

Key Authorities: Kan. Stat. Ann. § 41-727(e) (Supp. 2022) (recognizing that a parent may furnish their child with a cereal malt beverage before the child turns 21); State v. White, 410 P.3d 153 (Kan. Ct. App. 2017) (recognizing the parental discipline defense).

[1]  See, e.g.,State v. White, 410 P.3d 153, 161 (Kan. Ct. App. 2017).

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