California Court Reversed Juvenile’s Adjudication Based on Altercation with School Peace Officer

Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a California juvenile case involving an altercation between a student and a school peace officer. The court ultimately concluded that the prosecution’s evidence was insufficient to prove that the juvenile committed battery and resisting arrest.

According to the court’s opinion, an administrator found a student cutting class in the library. The administrator attempted to take the student to the assistant vice principal’s office, but the student initially refused. Eventually, the student followed the administrator. Along the way, the student encountered the school peace officer, who was called when the student initially refused to come to the principal’s office.

Evidently, the student had a history with this particular officer involving a formal complaint that had been made against the officer by the student’s father. The school reviewed the complaint, but the officer remained at the school. On the day of the incident, the officer testified that he initially verbally “encouraged” the student to go to the principal’s office, but the student would not go. Instead, the student used his phone to call his father, asking the officer to speak with his father. The officer declined.

Eventually, the officer physically “encouraged” the student to go into the principals’ officer by placing his hand on the student’s back and lightly pushing him into the office. The student brushed the officer’s hand off his body, and the officer then grabbed the student by the wrist and pulled him into the office. The student pulled his hand away, and the officer then took the student to the ground and handcuffed him.

The student was charged with battery and resisting a peace officer. The court determined that the student had committed both offenses, and ordered the student to complete 40 hours of community service. The student appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision, finding that there was insufficient evidence to find that the student committed either offense. The court explained that a battery requires the “willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.” Here, the court held that the student’s brushing of the officer’s hand off his body was not necessarily a willful act. The court noted that the student was on the phone at the time, and according to the officer’s testimony, seemed to be trying to get away from the officer, not assault him. Next, the court held that the contact was not shown to be “harmful or offensive,” as required under case law. The court also found that there was insufficient evidence to show that the student resisted the peace officer, in part because there was no evidence that the officer was enforcing a valid school rule.

Is Your Child Facing Serious Allegations?

If your child has been accused of committing a serious criminal offense, contact Attorney John W. Noonan for guidance and assistance. Attorney Noonan is a veteran criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling California juvenile cases. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your child’s situation with Attorney Noonan, call 877-463-3390 today.

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