The Michigan prosecutor who successfully prosecuted the mother and father of teenage school shooter Ethan Crumbley stated on Friday that her primary objective was not to establish a precedent where parents are held accountable for the criminal actions of their children in court. Rather, her aim was to prevent future incidents of gun violence.

"I hope this outcome contributes to the prevention of gun violence," said Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald. "I hope it encourages people to take more responsibility. I don't want to see a scenario where numerous prosecutors begin charging parents for their children's actions."

However, the convictions of James and Jennifer Crumbley, marking the first instance of parents being criminally liable for a mass shooting carried out by their child, establish a legal precedent that could potentially prompt prosecutors to pursue similar cases against parents for their children's conduct.

Ekow Yankah, a law professor at the University of Michigan, explained to NBC News that lawyers are trained to build their cases based on legal precedent. He noted that prosecutors might leverage the convictions in cases that may not receive widespread national attention.

"This case was particularly horrific and had unique circumstances," Yankah commented on the 2021 mass shooting in a Detroit suburb that resulted in the deaths of four Oxford High School students. "I cannot say definitively how much it will influence similar prosecutions, but precedent carries significant weight in law."

In Pontiac, Michigan, on Thursday, a jury found James Crumbley guilty of involuntary manslaughter, following his wife Jennifer Crumbley's conviction on the same charge in February.

Each of the Crumbleys could potentially receive up to 15 years in prison for each of the four counts of involuntary manslaughter they were convicted of. However, under Michigan law, felony sentences stemming from the same incident must be served concurrently, meaning the maximum combined sentence the judge can impose is 15 years. Their sentencing is scheduled for April 9th.

During both trials, prosecutors presented the same argument: while neither James nor Jennifer Crumbley were aware of their son Ethan's plans for a deadly attack at his high school, they both failed in their legal obligations to prevent it.

Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 at the time of the shooting at Oxford High School, pleaded guilty as an adult and received a life sentence without parole in December. He used a 9 mm Sig Sauer firearm, a gift from his father, in the tragic event that claimed the lives of his classmates.

Yankah characterized the verdicts as a "warning" to parents like James and Jennifer Crumbley who neglected to keep a deadly weapon away from their son.

Michigan attorney Lisa Baratta, who represented one of the first couples charged with violating a parental responsibility ordinance in the 1990s, believes the Crumbley verdicts will trigger a wave of "parental prosecutions."

"Moving forward, when a juvenile commits a crime, prosecutors must assess whether parental negligence played a role," she stated in an email.

The couple represented by Baratta's law firm in 1996 was found guilty of violating an ordinance in St. Clair Shores that mandated them to "exercise reasonable control" over their children. Their 16-year-old son had been arrested for burglary and selling marijuana, among other offenses. They were ordered to pay a small fine, though Baratta noted that the conviction was later overturned on appeal.

Baratta asserted that following the convictions of James and Jennifer Crumbley, it will become more difficult for other parents with troubled children to evade prosecution, and parents will need to be extremely vigilant in monitoring their children's behavior.

"Parents will need to monitor their child's mental health, social circle, online presence, and more," Baratta emphasized. "Responsible parents already engage in these practices. The concern is that the definition of 'responsible' could become blurred, leading to innocent parents facing charges."

Jeffrey Swartz, a former county judge in Florida and a professor at Cooley Law School in Michigan and Florida, noted that parents might not always be fully aware of their child's personal life but could still be subject to prosecution for their child's actions.

"If I'm a parent who owns firearms or other serious weapons, anything classified as a deadly weapon, I would reconsider having such items in my home," Swartz remarked.

In Michigan, where a safe gun storage law recently took effect, parents who own firearms will be held to a stringent standard to ensure the secure storage of these weapons, Swartz added.

Although the Crumbleys were charged before the enactment of the Michigan law, the prosecution in their case demonstrated that parents can be held accountable for their child's crimes. Swartz suggested that this could pave the way for other prosecutors to pursue charges against parents for crimes involving different types of weapons.

"It sets a risky precedent if prosecutors choose to follow suit because they are not limited to guns," Swartz cautioned. "Perhaps a child possesses hunting knives or a baseball bat, and the offense might not involve a mass shooting."