Can A School Fight Be Prosecuted?
Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2022 at 4:09 pm
In times past, kids fighting at school may have seemed no big deal. The principal would call the parents. Maybe the children involved would get detention. A suspension was a possible but extreme measure, and expulsion was reserved only for the worst cases. That is no longer the norm.
Schools now hire full-time law enforcement, which will arrest even elementary school students, sometimes even for a fight off school grounds. This kind of conduct could have gotten a slap on the wrist when you were a kid. Now it can result in assault charges for children. Over 30,000 children under the age of ten have been arrested in the U.S. since 2013.
How Does a Court Sentence a Child for a School Fight?
If your child is in a fight at school, the possible charges can change their life. Jail time is unlikely but possible. In Illinois, a ten-year-old child can be detained in a county jail for up to six hours. A twelve-year-old child can be detained much longer, separate from adults. They could even be charged as adults.
But an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney from Bruno Law Offices can help your child avoid the worst possible consequences of an arrest in exchange for supervision, probation, or treatment.
After law enforcement makes an arrest, it is up to the prosecutor to decide to press charges and what charges to bring if they choose to do so. If the child is found guilty, the judge decides the punishment. Some prosecutors and judges want to help juveniles charged with assault or battery in school fights.
A judge may order a full pre-sentence investigation before deciding on a sentence. The report can explore family dynamics, assess mental health, and review past criminal charges. Whether in a formal report or not, the judge considers factors such as:
- The child’s criminal history
- The child’s age
- The age of the alleged victim
- The circumstances behind the fight
- The child’s mental and physical health
- Family background and environment
The circumstances play an important role in sentencing. For example, a judge may be more lenient on a child defending themselves in a fight than the child who started it. The judge will also weigh aggravating factors. For instance, if your child used a deadly weapon during a school fight, the judge may require probation or even time in a juvenile detention facility.
What Are Some Possible Juvenile Sentences?
If your child was charged after a school fight, an Illinois criminal defense attorney could help you negotiate alternative sentences to keep your child out of custody. Among the alternative sentencing options are:
If this is your child’s first arrest or they have only minor criminal history, the judge may place your child on supervision. Less formal than probation, the court monitors the child during the supervisory period. If your child obeys the law while being supervised, the court can dismiss the charges at the end of the supervisory period.
Probation and intensive probation supervision
Probation keeps your child out of jail, but unlike supervision, it results in a conviction. Probation typically lasts at least a year. Common court-ordered conditions during probation include:
- Submitting to drug tests
- Checking in with probation officers
- Community service
- Obeying curfew
- Taking anger management classes
Intensive probation supervision allows your child to avoid jail and live freely with severe restrictions. The court monitors youths charged with crimes closely to reduce the risk that they’ll commit another offense. Other government agencies, like social services and mental health associations, are often pulled in to help in these cases.
Conditional discharge is similar to probation but has less oversight. For example, your child doesn’t have to check in with a probation officer. But, like probation, conditional discharge requires your child not to engage in any other criminal activity, complete community service, and attend treatment programs.
Contact Bruno Law Offices Today
If your child has received a criminal charge because of a school fight, you need to speak to one of our seasoned criminal defense attorneys to discuss your options. Contact Bruno Law Offices today to discuss your case with an assault and battery defense lawyer in Champaign and learn how we can defend you.