Charges Dismissed in Los Angeles School Shooting Plot
Prosecutors have declined to file charges against a teen who had been accused by police of plotting a school shooting. Orange County juvenile crime frequently involve allegations of crime on school property. Recent high-profile school shootings have even read to ill-advised raids on on the houses of school students.
Experienced Orange County juvenile defense laweyrs, know it is important in cases like this for law enforcement to refrain from overreacting to a heightened perception of danger, due to other school killings.
In this instance, prosecutors were able to halt the case, in which there clearly wasn't enough evidence, from moving forward any further.
According to The L.A. Times, a 16-year-old Notre Dame High School student had reportedly threatened a teacher who had given him a poor grade as well as two fellow classmates who had bullied him.
The teen was arrested on a recent Friday. By the following Wednesday, he had been freed and prosecutors declined to move forward with the case.
Police reported that the teen was also upset about the death of his grandmother and coping with certain medical issues. He reportedly told a friend he planned to kill three people. Another student overheard this discussion and told a parent, who then contacted police.
Detectives said the teen confessed when questioned.
Despite the rarity of school shootings across the country, it's a phenomenon that is given a great deal of coverage in both the local and national media. Take for instance the shooting in Chardon, Ohio, in which a teen opened fire on classmates in the cafeteria, wounding five and killing three.
Given that the Notre Dame High School case was reported just a few days later, it's no surprise that police pushed for an arrest.
While it is certainly important for fellow classmates and teachers to be vigilant about legitimate threats, what is oftentimes overlooked is the fact that teenagers are impulsive. As such, they say things without thinking. That doesn't make them criminals.
Much research has been conducted about this issue. A report by CBS news detailed a study from the American Psychological Association that found unequivocally that teens' brains are not mature. In fact, teens' ability to maturely reason and judge are still developing well into their 20s. This research was the catalyst for the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to outlaw the death penalty for accused offenders under the age of 18.
As Dr. David Fassler, psychiatry professor at the University of Vermont's College of Medicine pointed out, it doesn't mean that teens are incapable of differentiating right from wrong. What it does mean is that especially when confronted with stressful or emotional situations, they are far more likely than an adult to act on instinct, without fully grasping the consequences of those actions - or in this case, the consequences of their words.
In fact, at ages 16 and 17, research has shown that when compared to adults, juveniles are more:
- reactive to stress;
- vulnerable when it comes to peer pressure;
- likely to overlook the long-term consequences, instead focusing on the short-term pay-offs;
An experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney will understand all of this, and can fight to ensure teens accused of serious crimes are treated fairly, in accordance with the law and with consideration for the facts of each specific case.
If your child is facing juvenile charges in Racho Cucagmonga, Santa Ana or Los Angeles, contact the Southern California Criminal Defense Team for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call (877) 529-4545.