What to do about juvenile detention for a 911 prank call by 12 year-old?

My 12 year-old’s friends dared him to dial 911 on the classroom phone which he did. 911 called back and spoke to the teacher, so they knew there was no emergency. However he was “arrested on paper” and charged with filing a false report. He has been sentenced to 3 days in-school suspension and 5 days at DAEP. They said however that later (they don’t know when) he will be taken into custody and booked at juvenile hall where he has to stay until a judge can see him. He has no record and not even any detentions. Is there any way to avoid him being processed like and housed with criminals?

Asked on October 19, 2011 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If your child has no criminal history, you may be able to get most of this resolved without him being taken into custody.  They may be telling him that he going to be taken into custody just to give him a scare.  You don't mention who you are talking to, but the two people who could influence the decision to take him into custody are the probation officer with the juvenile probation department and the  prosecutor with the district attorney's office.  They can actually tell you what is happening with your son's case better than the school or the law enforcement agency that filed the charges against him.  If he is taken into custody, he will not be housed with adults, but rather, at a juvenile detention center.  Some counties have centers locally, which others sub-contract with facilities out of county.  I would strongly recommend that you talk to a defense attorney that does juvenile law in your county. (You may want to call the court coordinator and see if your son qualifies for a court-appointed attorney, or at the very least get a list of attorneys they use for juvenile appointments)  Procedures do tend to vary a bit, and they can give you a better feel on whether the agency or school was just trying to scare you.  If the threat to take him into custody was not a threat, then they can also help you get ahead of the charges, and maybe workout a short probation in advance so he does not have to be taken into custody.


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