Cell Phones which contain incriminating speech or pornographic photographs should not be in your minor’s possession at school. If your minor is brought to the vice principal/school police for an alleged incident, the first thing asked is if they can look at their phone. The officials will lie to your minor and tell them they only want to look for what is related to the incident and they don’t care if there are pornographic photos or other incriminating evidence on the phone. Many high school kids today have nude pictures on their phones. If the picture is of a minor, it is illegal and is an expellable offense. You and your minor are subject to civil suit. It is quite common for girls to sext pictures of themselves to others in confidence. Please see previous blogs on sexting and how that can get the girl and others in serious trouble. I assure you that if any incriminating evidence is found your minor will be brought up for suspension/expulsion and referred for criminal prosecution. The law permits school officials and police to lie to extract incriminating evidence. Your minor should have a lock for their cell phone. They should be instructed not to provide the password to anyone unless they have your direct approval. If they are confronted by a school official or the police, the parents should also contact a lawyer experienced in these kinds of offenses for consultation. Continue the hearing with the vice-principal/police until you have consulted with an experienced lawyer. Our firm does provide a free initial phone consultation.
Prescription Medication is another source of contraband that too often gets minors expelled from school. When your minor brings his prescription medication to school and their friends or other kids find out your minor has pills available, they will ask for one or two to help them concentrate or to try them out. The furnishing of the prescription drug is the same as selling the drug even if no money is exchanged. It is an expellable offense and some schools take a hard line and push hard for expulsion. If your minor takes prescription medication, keep it under lock and key in your possession. Parcel out the morning dose at home. Do not let your minor take his medication to school. If he or she has to have the medication while at school, provide it to the school nurse or to a school administrator so they can administer it if needed.
Drugs should not be in your minor’s possession at school. This means any illegal drugs, seeds, hemp, alcohol, or other substances deemed illicit. It does not matter whether your minor has a medical marijuana card. Your minor is still subject to school discipline. Do not let your minor smoke marijuana or take other illegal drugs, unless prescribed, before they go to school, during lunch breaks, or immediately after school. Anything illegal done on the way to school, away from school on a break, or leaving the school is all subject to suspension/expulsion.
Internet, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites for your minors are fair game for suspension and expellable offenses if the talk/pictures cause a disruption at school.
I cannot impress upon parents enough the need to regularly supervise your minors social media sites. They may think it is an invasion of their privacy. Nonsense. As long as they are minors and you are legally responsible to provide for them, you have a duty to properly supervise them and see they do not get themselves into trouble. Boys and girls will regularly call each other offensive names on their Facebook pages. Close friends may accept it but some other students may react differently. Fights take place because of what someone has been called on social media sites. If someone gets hurt in a fight, expect being recommended for suspension/expulsion at school. It is very likely charges of assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury will be filed against your minor. This is a felony and a strike offense if your minor is over 16. You can be sued for the medical bills the other minor incurs for x-rays, scans, doctors, and the emergency room. If not sued, you and your minor will be responsible for those bills as a condition of any probation order. They are usually huge. This applies to girls and boys. Talking about illegal drug use and/or illegal activity is all fair game for the police and school officials to see. It is also important to make sure you know all the web sites your minor has. It is common for the minor to shut down one Facebook page but open another under another name. In previous blogs I have recommended you read the book, Talking Back to Facebook. If your minor or anyone in your home has accessed child pornography, it is an extremely serious offense and depending on the age of the offender can result in many years in custody. Merely deleting the material on your computer does not erase it from your hard drive. If you take your computer in for repair and they see the illegal child pornography, they must report this to the authorities. You must not possess illegal data on your computer. Get a new hard drive or a new computer and make sure nothing illegal is ever put on it.
Weapons of any type can lead to serious charges. Guns, whether operable or not, and anything that looks like a gun, even toy guns that fire pellets, will get your minor recommended for expulsion. It is common for teenage boys to take knives to school they may have left in their clothes or backpacks from Boy Scouts or some other activities. Impress on your children they have to make sure they are not to possess any weapons of any kind in their clothes or belongings. This applies to guns, knives, dirks, daggers, martial art devices like nunchuks, throwing stars, brass knuckles, mace, pepper spray, items otherwise lawful but made into objects for assault, modified baseball bats, or other items that have been altered to be used as weapons.
They should not have any of these items in their cars at school.
Matches, lighters, and chemical compounds can lead to suspension/expellable offenses. What do minors who are bored do with matches and lighters? They want to light something on fire. You will be hit with huge bills for damages. Minors want to blow up things. They have learned from the internet/chemistry class that certain things mixed together can cause explosions. Doing this at school will lead to expellable offenses/criminal charges. Doing them at home will lead to criminal prosecution. Your minor will face multiple felony charges for possession and use of explosives. Anything that causes an explosion of any kind is taken very seriously.
You must take the time to explain these issues to your minors. If you cannot, call our office to schedule a group session where we will instruct a group of minors, in a small group setting at a reduced cost, about protecting themselves from getting into trouble at school or with the law. Tell your minor that if they are ever called to the vice-principal’s office you are to be called before any questioning takes place. Instruct them not to write out any statement until you have first been contacted and had a chance to confer with them. Unfortunately in today’s world school discipline officials do not have the discretion with most offenses to counsel, advise and say next time there will be stiffer consequences. They work hand-in-hand with school police to gather evidence and incriminating statements. If it is an expellable offense, they must refer for expulsion. Your minor has a constitutional right not to incriminate themselves. They have a right to ask you be present before any incriminating questions are asked of them. You have a right to counsel with an attorney before any incriminating questions are asked.