ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards warns that he will prosecute people falsely claiming to be the parents of juveniles who have been arrested.
Juvenile justice has seen a recent surge of phony parents for kids in trouble.
In recent weeks prosecutors said that they have seen five cases of adults falsely telling police they were the parents of juveniles being arrested or questioned by police.
On Monday, a hearing was held in juvenile court after law enforcement and juvenile justice officials learned that a 33-year-old woman had lied to police about being the parent of a 15-year-old girl suspected of shoplifting at the Albany Walmart.
"We've seen a trend of persons coming in an impersonating parents of juveniles offenders," said Edwards.
The 15-year-old was questioned by police for shoplifting, and the juvenile told police the woman was her mother. Prosecutors said it was not the child's mother, instead they believe the woman was part of the crime.
"They may be in fact a collaborator with the juvenile in doing the underlying crime," explained Edwards. "Or maybe the parent themselves might be collaborating."
Edwards said that sometimes the parents themselves are wanted and don't want to contact police. But when they get to court, the phony parent has been discovered at least five times recently. And now the D.A. said they will prosecute to end this trend.
"It entails elements of identity theft, making false statements, and these are felonies that can be attached to this person coming in pretending to be a parent," said Edwards.
And the D.A. said that he will also prosecute the juvenile for lying to police in these cases as well. He said this is his warning that the phony parent claims will be dealt with.
Edwards said police will now be checking identifications and other forms of verification to make sure an adult is the parent of a child and not just taking their word for it.