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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 116715
Experience:  Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
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Can a minor be arrested in a public school for fighting If

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Can a minor be arrested in a public school for fighting? If so what rights does the minor have? Can the student be interrogated by a police officer without a witness, adult or parent present? Can the minor be arrested and charged without someone filing a formal complaint? When do the parents of the minor need to be informed?
A minor can be arrested anywhere for fighting, including in a public school. The minor has pretty much all of the same rights as an adult in criminal arrest, right to counsel, right to remain silent. As far as the police questioning the minor without an adult present, while the police can do so, any actual statement obtained not taken by the police in the presence of some independent advocate (even if it was just a teacher) should not be admissable in court. The minor can be arrested and charged even without someone filing a formal complaint, since fighting is also covered under disturbing the peace for which no complainant is required. The parents of the minor only need to be informed at the point when the minor is brought to the juvenile detention facility for booking.

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Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Does the charge of Battery require a formal complaint and what rights does the minor have with regards XXXXX XXXXX his rights, being searched, and secuestered/interrogated by a police officer in a public school without the presence or knowledge of a representative of that school?


Thank you!

Battery does eventually need a cooperating victim to proceed to court, but not for the initial arrest. As long as there was a fight, then a battery occurred. Police work is not as formal as you are suggesting, with a formal complaint being lodged at the time of the incident. The police arrive, there is a fight, they make the arrest. Later, the DA will decide if there are formal charges to be brought based upon the police investigation and its interview with the alleged victim in the incident.

The police have a right to search anyone theya re arresting, minor or not. As far as the questioning, again the police can question a minor alone, the only thing is that any statements obtained can be challenged on the basis that there was no adult present to make sure he understood his rights and voluntarily waived them, but that is merely a challenge to admission of any statements he allegedly made to the police, nothing more.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Correct me if I am wrong but its seems as though what you are saying is that a minor who is engaged in a school fight, regardless of fault, can be secuestered, not given the opportunity to understand his rights, questioned, searched, arrested and charged with battery/disorderly conduct (informally) all without the knowledge of a parent, the presence of a school representative and the filing of a formal complaint by the other party or at least a witness.
It all depends upon the circumstances, but pretty much. The officer needs some probable cause to make the arrest, such as witnessing the fight himself or speaking to someone about the fight. As far as the questioning, police question minors alone all of the time, it is just that no statement obtained can be used against the minor unless it was obtained in the presence of some independent juvenile advocate (some adult other than the police). I think if you look further into this you will find the police did have more information about this before arresting him.

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Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Wow! Have the times changed. A simple 20 second school fight and a child's future can be possibly ruined or at least tarnished. If that were the case when I was coming up the schools would be empty and most would be in jail. Who didn't get in a fight in school at one time or another? If what you are saying is true then we are most assuredly living in perilous times. It seems as though a minor has no rights, in this example, and the police officer can do what he wants, arrest who he wants and act how he chooses. It also seems as though our children, who are supposed to be protected by a school system that is paid for with taxpayer monies, are not guaranteed their safety. Is not the public school charged with the responsibility of safe guarding and protecting the well being of the child regardless of the involvement of the police or civil authorities? I would argue that leaving a minor alone with a police officer would be no different than leaving him/her along with a stranger. If that officer were a pedophile or have abusive tendencies toward children, who then would know and be in a position to protect the child. I always believed that minors would be protected from harm at all costs while at school as I was.


This situation, in my opinion, violates the rights of the minor and leads me to believe that the school does not have the student in their best interest. Remember, we are talking about two children pushing each other.


I thank you for your time and prompt response.

Chances are the DA will not accept any charges on this. Unfortunately, times have changed in this overly politically correct society. But they have also changed in the fact that schoolyard fights used to be with fists and now they seem to escalate, even days later, to weapons, which is why police and school officials have such a zero tolerance policy for such acts.

The police are now in the schools and have responsibility along with school officials for enforcing the rules and laws. Leaving a child alone with the police is no different than leaving the child alone with a teacher or even leaving someone else's child alone with you. There are bad people in every occupation and everywhere, so your statement about the officer having the potential to be a pedophile is way off base.

As far as the incident, as I said above, it is highly unlikely the DA is going to pursue this as a criminal case, but you will have to go through all of the motions, including hiring an attorney for your child.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

I don't want to waste your time but this subject is extremely intriquing to me. This is not the case of my child, just one of interest.


I can agree that my "pedophile" comment can be offbase, unless you have been abused yourself by someone. It is true that the disguise of the word "fighting" has taken on a much broader meaning in todays life. I just believe there has to be a "common sense" thought application when dealing with school fights. I do know that schools now employ police officers as liaisons that are permanently stationed in the schools. However, that does not make it within the realm of the law.


When I drop my child off at school I am leaving him/her there with the understanding that the school will be taking the role of the guardian since minors are involved. The charge of guardian is given to the school, not the police department. No matter how you slice it, when 2 children get into a fist fight typically it is not criminal nor does it involve criminal intent. This is where I believe common sense should be applied and the decision to arrest should be based upon the incident and made by the educator or the parents of the parties involved and not the police.


In this particular case it seems as though the police officer, who did not witness the fight decided to arrest one particular student and not the other without the consent of the school, without witnessing the fight ad without receiving a formal complaint. I did view the video of the fight and I there was no harm to either student, other than possibly emotional. There was no formal charge and the school administrators, admittedly, were not part of the arrest. As a parent, I dont remember ever agreeing giving charge of my children to the police while at school and there has to be some line that is drawn with regard to this relationship between a school and the police department when it comes dealing with minors while they are in school.


I don't expect a reply and, again, I thank you for your time and response.

Ah, but here is where you are mistaken, in today's society the schools have partnered with the police because the schools can no longer handle the matters happening on their campuses. I too disagree with the zero tolerance policies of many schools and have fought one case of a child being expelled for taking a children's aspirin, but unfortunately, this is the climate people have created today and common sense went out the window when we allowed a "village" to raise our children.

A fist fight is a violation of the law, no matter how you slice it because it involves the unauthorized touching of another, which by definition is a battery.

I do understand your frustration, but if there was a video of the altercation, then witnesses are not necessary, but it will be necessary for the other child to testify as the victim and if he does not, then the DA will not have any case based solely on the video. The schools have a complete partnership with the police and have police specifically assigned to school patrols, this is the way of today's society that certain people have created for us because we have allowed it. Again, schools have zero tolerance polices and no common sense on these matters.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you!
Thank you and good luck.