Whether you went to a public school or a private school, you were probably witness to some roughhousing on the playground back in the day.
Well, incidents of fighting at school have not gone away. In fact, last year a handful of teenagers were actually arrested as fights broke out in schools across the state.
What are fights like these days?
The staff at Southwest High School in Minneapolis know the threat of school fighting and how it can escalate. Just last March, the school made news for multiple fights that involved over 20 students.
In this incident, no police were called. However, a fight that took place in Austin, Minnesota the previous month resulted in arrests. A video of the fight posted online showed multiple students using weapons (what appeared to be nunchucks) and throwing punches throughout school property and the surrounding street.
Do not let your teenagers start this new school year off on a negative note. The violence in those incidents are no joke, and the consequences for kids involved could be serious.
Remember, the definition of “assault” in Minnesota applies to adults and teenagers. If your child is arrested or charged with assault, they could face serious penalties that will affect their future.
What Is “Assault” in Minnesota?
If police have to intervene at your child’s high school, they may arrest participating students on assault charges. There are five different degrees of assault in Minnesota. The injuries, weapons used, and victims of the crime will all have an impact on what charges are placed upon your child.
It is important to note that Minnesota takes violence against school and law enforcement officials very seriously. When public officials are victims in the assault, charges are increased to assault in the fourth degree. If the assault causes bodily harm to these victims, the charges are increased yet again and become a felony. A felony record can have a serious impact on your child’s ability to get into college or get a job after graduation.
What Happens When Minnesota Juveniles Are Charged
The good news is that if your child is still a minor, a school fight will probably not send them to adult court.
Minnesota has a separate court system for juveniles who have been charged with crimes. These proceedings often take less time than “adult” court and will not result in penalties as harsh as an adult who is convicted of the same crime. Judges will be more likely to offer alternatives to prison, including house arrest or alternative schooling for your child.
Still, you should take their charges seriously, and make steps to have your child’s record expunged after the case is finished.
Juveniles may be charged as an adult if a firearm is involved in the crime or the injuries caused to the victim are quite serious. In either case, they have the same rights to legal counsel and are innocent until proven guilty.
If your child is hit with assault charges, reach out to a lawyer immediately. Not all Minnesota lawyers specialize in juvenile crimes, so be sure to mention your specific situation during the initial consultation.
Talk to Your Minnesota Teen About Staying Out of Trouble This Year
The school year is already underway, but now is as good a time as ever to talk to your student about staying out of trouble. Police are not called to every single fight, but as tensions escalate, Minnesota schools may see more legal intervention during this school year.
Know the consequences.
Review the penalties for both misdemeanor and felony crimes with your child. When you lay out the possibilities of what might happen after a conviction (the inability to work in a certain field or achieve certain dreams, etc.) your child may think twice before saying “yes” to a potential crime.
Walk away from fights.
Even if your child does not throw any punches, their involvement could still result in legal trouble. The drama of a fight can send students out of control, and they may say or do things that they do not mean out of the moment. Tell your child that if they see a fight on school property, they should simply walk away to avoid any sort of disciplinary action.
Seek anger management.
Do not wait until your child’s day in court to seek rehabilitation programs for anger management. If your child has a habit of getting into altercations at school, take action now. Reach out to a counselor or therapist to avoid having to talk to a lawyer later.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).