School Trouble

I entered 9th grade in 2011. I was so excited. I knew many of the seniors and juniors from my older brother and my best friend from preschool was a sophomore. For the first time I was remotely interested in academics. I wanted to be popular and I thought I was fitting in, but when I look back I was a stupid little girl. This story is about how I ended up in very serious trouble and what I learned from that experience.

The first thing I started doing wrong was being late to class because I was talking to friends between periods. The school rule was detention for any tardy. If you miss detention you are given Thursday school after school and then if you miss that, you end up in Saturday school. Within the first month I have 3 Saturday schools. Who do you meet at Saturday school? All of the kids who are acting out and being defiant are there. Pretty quickly I was hanging out with these kids and I started talking back and being disrespectful to teachers. I wanted to be part of the group so I did really stupid things. I had three dress code violations, 3 cell phone violations, defiance to a teacher, the cheating incident, chewing gum and eating in class.

My high school like so many other high school has a lot of fights. The kids brag about fighting and it seemed to me like it was no big deal. All of the people who got in fights got suspended for 3 to 5 days if they got caught at all. I didn’t know any person who got expelled for fighting and a few people got in a lot of fights. I really didn’t plan on getting in a fight, but I didn’t think it was a big deal if someone did.

Somebody at school made a Facebook page about my best friend saying she looked like a fat celebrity. They used her name for a fake page with one letter spelled wrong. They copied pictures of her and made derogatory statements under the photos. My friend was very depressed and did not want to come to school anymore.

My other friend snuck out to go to a party with this girl and her mom caught them. The other girl told on everyone at the party and a lot of people got in big trouble. This was the first time I had heard of this girl and her twin sister. Later that week I learned these were the girls who made the Facebook page about my friend. That night on Facebook the twins were making rude comments to one of my friends and I wrote that they were rude and nasty people. The next day my brother’s friend told me that he heard the twins were going to fight me. All my friends were saying you have to kick her butt, so I went up to her and said I heard you want to fight me. Next thing we were fighting and her sister jumped in. It was over in 2 minutes when some guys came and broke it up. Three months later I got in an argument with my best friend because she wouldn’t give me my jacket and she punched me and I fought back. Now I have two fights on my discipline record.

Long story short, three and a half months later I get a letter in the mail that I am charged with felony battery, two chargers of misdemeanor battery, and 2 counts of fighting on school property, all from the first fight. Both girls were barely scratched in that fight. It was two on one. The detective’s photos verify this and there were so many witnesses, including teachers who say they were both without visible marks and at school the next morning after the fight.

I was about to learn about our justice system and it is not what you see on CSI. My mom and I are thinking we will get all the evidence and the medical records and then everyone will realize that this is just the girls’ mom basically lying and creating an overblown story with hearsay testimony. The charges will be dropped and we will be done with it.

First thing that happened is the DA and the Judge got a copy of my discipline record. Mine was 4 pages long because every time you miss detention you get three more entries. The discipline record is what the judge uses to determine if you should get a break. No breaks for me. Everyone assumes you are guilty once the DA files charges against you. If you want a trial it is very expensive and there is no jury for minors.

Next, I learned about the plea bargain system. If you plead guilty to lesser charges, the other charges are dropped. We have since learned that 95% of all cases are settled with a plea bargain. In my case I agreed to misdemeanor battery because I threw the first punch. I am guilty of that. I just want to be clear–I’m 14, it’s my first time in real trouble and I did not get a break. I got the maximum charge that is possible for my crime.

Before you are sentenced, a probation officer reviews the case and recommends a sentence. My probation officer willingly reviewed all evidence and reports and concluded that I was eligible for informal probation even though the judge had denied that already. She was able to convince the judge and informal probation was my sentence.

This year I have studied hard and made the honor roll while playing two sports. I now understand how the school and the justice system have partnered together through the zero tolerance policy. I am glad to have experienced this while a minor because things are even worse when you turn 18.

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