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Advice needed on 'crime' and lawyer
Old 04-25-2012, 09:27 AM   #1
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Advice needed on 'crime' and lawyer

OK, I need to get some advice from some people who are in the system and who might have gone through this as a parent.

Without giving to much information, my son was involved in a fight at school last week. Yesterday he was given a ticket. It is a class C misdemeanor. I have been told by the school that 'it is minor, and if he pleads guilty the judge will be lienent'...

But I do not want to have my son plead guilty to a crime. He is not yet a citizen and I do not want to have to disclose him being convicted of a crime. He said he did not throw the first punch, but I do not know if that matters. They have video of the fight from the school and from a kid who videoed it... I can not see the videos unless we go to court.

The other kid has admitted he had bulled my son during the year, but my son never told anybody... my son had been told that the boy was talking bad about him and he confronted him earlier in the day and pushed him... I can see where people could see where this was the start of the incident.


So, should I hire a lawyer

Should I talk to the prosecutor and see if we can get a deal cut where he does not have to plead guilty but we pay the fine and he does his community service

Is there anything else that I can do that I am not thinking of

At this time, all we have is the ticket. I was told we will get something in the mail this summer when a court date is set.


Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to defend what my kid did. I just do not think it should have been elevated to a crime. He has never been in trouble and is a straight A student in the advanced classes. This is not like him at all.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:34 AM   #2
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I don't have any useful advice except that it might not be a bad idea to chat with a lawyer in an exploratory manner. It just angers me that this sort of thing has been criminalized. Totally inappropriate.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:35 AM   #3
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Sorry to hear of your troubles.

I have no legal expertise and will leave that matter to others to comment on. However, I am an immigrant and I think that, were it my case, I would pursue all legal options to avoid being convicted of a crime. Even a misdemeanor conviction can have serious consequences on one's immigration status.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:50 AM   #4
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Sorry to hear of your troubles.

I have no legal expertise and will leave that matter to others to comment on. However, I am an immigrant and I think that, were it my case, I would pursue all legal options to avoid being convicted of a crime. Even a misdemeanor conviction can have serious consequences on one's immigration status.
+1

I'd suggest talking to a lawyer (or two or three) to better understand your options. This also may let you learn who has an 'inside track' with the judicial powers that be in your community.

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Old 04-25-2012, 10:10 AM   #5
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"I can not see the videos unless we go to court."

IANAL, but there is this thing called discovery, where you can legally require the prosecution (in this case that sounds like the state) to share with you the evidence they plan to use at trial (which would probably include the two videos) before trial. The legal idea here is that you have a right to see that stuff so you can adequately prepare your defense at trial. They can't just spring the video at the trial and leave you unprepared; that's viewed as unfair.

So what I'd suggest is talking with a real lawyer and find out what you need to do discovery-wise to see the videos yourself. Then you can make a more informed decision.

Good luck,

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Old 04-25-2012, 10:31 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
...(snip)...
Without giving to much information, my son was involved in a fight at school last week. Yesterday he was given a ticket. It is a class C misdemeanor. I have been told by the school that 'it is minor, and if he pleads guilty the judge will be lienent'...

But I do not want to have my son plead guilty to a crime. He is not yet a citizen and I do not want to have to disclose him being convicted of a crime....
I'm not qualified to give legal advice but in this case and with my past experience with young offender problems, I'd consult a lawyer. When you consult a lawyer, I'd try talking to a few of them before selecting one. This may take awhile but the comparisons of what they say will be interesting and the costs may vary a lot.

Once in awhile we watch Judge Judy and although it's TV and a bit over the top, she quite often asks a simple question of a defendent who was convicted of a past offense -- were you convicted of the offense? If he answers "yes" she doesn't want to know about the circumstances of the past case.
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Old 04-25-2012, 10:37 AM   #7
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I retained a lawyer to help me with a speeding ticket. Your situation is signifcantly more serious (although your son is a minor, that immigration status is important). I think it's a no-brainer to get a lawyer.
I suspect that for a lawyer, this will be an easy issue to deal with, so I don't think the expenses will be [relatively] high....but it's worth it.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:04 AM   #8
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I retained a lawyer to help me with a speeding ticket. Your situation is signifcantly more serious (although your son is a minor, that immigration status is important). I think it's a no-brainer to get a lawyer.
I suspect that for a lawyer, this will be an easy issue to deal with, so I don't think the expenses will be [relatively] high....but it's worth it.
Criminal lawyer used to juvenile cases. Do not handle this on your own, as school/police interactions have become absurd. There is no even mild hope of good sense being shown, as you can already see. He lawyers up.

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Old 04-25-2012, 11:29 AM   #9
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What Ha wrote.

Don't believe what the prosecutors or school tells you. Your lawyer can tell you what is legal and reasonable and where they're blowing smoke (see above, re:"no video until at trial").

Let your lawyer make a deal with the prosecutors. Don't try to do this yourself.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:33 AM   #10
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Is deferred adjudication an option? I used this process on a speeding ticket. You do not plead guilty. The offense does not go on your record. You do pay the fine. And as long as you do not have a similar offense within some time period (6 months) the matter disappears. Worked well enough for a speeding ticket. But not sure if it applies to this scenario. You could ask the county courthouse or whereever the ticket was issued from.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:39 AM   #11
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A lawyer's job is to ensure his client's rights, not to 'get somebody off'. It never hurts to have a lawyer, but often changes nothing in the long run. You put down your money and take a chance.

To pay a criminal fine, your son will have to be found guilty, whether he pleads to the offense or not. It will still be on his juvenile record.

You have not indicated which offense with which he was charged. An attorney might play "Let's Make a Deal" - umm, I mean, go to a pre-trial and attempt to negotiate a lesser sentence; say from assault down to disorderly conduct. If your statement is accurate, it's possible both youths were just charged with disorderly - I can't think of a lesser charge, at least in the jurisdiction where I work.

A push is not necessarily an assault, unless it causes harm or was done with intent to do harm. A willingness to engage in violence is disorderly conduct, though. And to confront a subject and push them is prima facia evidence of a willingness to fight; or at least make the other person think one will do them harm (menacing).

It's up to you if you want to pay an attorney's fee. If it's all on videotape, that's pretty much what the judge (or juvenile referee) will go by. Some judges may go easier on the fine if you have an attorney, since you've already paid money to an attorney. They can never admit to that, though.

Some juvenile courts have a referral system - for first offenses a juvenile can be referred to a counselor. Doesn't hurt to ask.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:41 AM   #12
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The Washington Post had this article on how Texas schools are criminalizing offenses.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:55 AM   #13
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A lawyer's job is to ensure his client's rights, not to 'get somebody off'. It never hurts to have a lawyer, but often changes nothing in the long run. You put down your money and take a chance.

To pay a criminal fine, your son will have to be found guilty, whether he pleads to the offense or not. It will still be on his juvenile record.

You have not indicated which offense with which he was charged. An attorney might play "Let's Make a Deal" - umm, I mean, go to a pre-trial and attempt to negotiate a lesser sentence; say from assault down to disorderly conduct. If your statement is accurate, it's possible both youths were just charged with disorderly - I can't think of a lesser charge, at least in the jurisdiction where I work.

A push is not necessarily an assault, unless it causes harm or was done with intent to do harm. A willingness to engage in violence is disorderly conduct, though. And to confront a subject and push them is prima facia evidence of a willingness to fight; or at least make the other person think one will do them harm (menacing).

It's up to you if you want to pay an attorney's fee. If it's all on videotape, that's pretty much what the judge (or juvenile referee) will go by.

Some juvenile courts have a referral system - for first offenses a juvenile can be referred to a counselor. Doesn't hurt to ask.
I can not remember, but I think it was disorderly with fighting written in the blank space provided.

Just got the ticket yesterday and talked with the assistant principal about what she saw on the video.

The assistant principal said that the judge is more lenient if you plead guilty. However, I would not even want to get that far... I would much rather have a deal in place where he does some community service, we pay the court costs and be done with it...


It was not until I heard that my son had pushed the guy earlier in the day that I thought he might be in trouble... but the school said that it was not part of their decision. The fight was 'brutal' as she put it... my son said it was about 20 seconds and he was hit first and then knocked to the ground... but from when I was in school, this would have been a 'minor' fight and both boys would have gone to detention and that was it...


I have been looking at the websites of a few lawyers and will talk to two who specializes in juvenile cases. Thanks for the responses.
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:59 AM   #14
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The Washington Post had this article on how Texas schools are criminalizing offenses.

Thanks for the article.... the pic is of the judge that we will be seeing...
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:59 AM   #15
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Agreed on at least talking to a lawyer. The fight and the outcome is not what at stake - your son's immigration status is and that is the far more important issue.

You should be able to see the video if the State plans to present that as evidence, otherwise it is immaterial. But since local laws and procedures vary so much you have little to lose and much to gain by seeing a lawyer.

To ease the pain a little, most lawyers charge little or nothing for the initial consultation and from that you will come away with at least an idea of how serious it is and what your options are.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:00 PM   #16
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The Washington Post had this article on how Texas schools are criminalizing offenses.
It's not just Texas, this insanity is everywhere. Just a few.

Six-year-old handcuffed, arrested for temper tantrum* - NY Daily News
Students hospitalized after pepper spray incident at a Pine Bluff junior high school - CW Arkansas
TheRecord - Man shocked by arrest after daughter draws picture of...
Hercules Family Battles Sex Assault Claim Against 6-Year-Old « CBS San Francisco

Because of this type of craziness, I agree with the others. Lawyer up, and try to get a deferred judgement like what Muirwannabe mentioned.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:01 PM   #17
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The assistant principal said that the judge is more lenient if you plead guilty. However, I would not even want to get that far... I would much rather have a deal in place where he does some community service, we pay the court costs and be done with it...


It was not until I heard that my son had pushed the guy earlier in the day that I thought he might be in trouble... but the school said that it was not part of their decision. The fight was 'brutal' as she put it... my son said it was about 20 seconds and he was hit first and then knocked to the ground... but from when I was in school, this would have been a 'minor' fight and both boys would have gone to detention and that was it...
You have to be asking yourself, "Why won't they show me the video?"

Don't believe anything until you have seen them.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:26 PM   #18
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You have to be asking yourself, "Why won't they show me the video?"

Don't believe anything until you have seen them.

From what I know, the school can not show the video to me since there are other students.. I have read that on their site, so probably is a school rule. I know that I have had to sign to allow my kids pictures to be posted if they won and award or were in a play.


I am sure that I will see what happened if we go to court. I will not take anything on faith.
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:43 PM   #19
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Yes, yes, yes, get a lawyer.

A guilty plea will be on his record; even though he's a minor, it could follow him forever in background checks, besides the immigration issues.

Ridiculous that it's come to this.
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:51 PM   #20
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I agree that consulting with a lawyer makes sense. The lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea to a lesser charge.

My son got into trouble as a juvenile and was offered participating in a 'diversion" program where he was on probation and did some community service as I recall. You may want to ask about that.

As an aside, the climate today is ridiculous. If every fight that happened when I was in school was treated the way they are treated today we would not have had enough judges.
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