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I am currently on suspension without pay from my job due to a situation that occurred a few weeks ago. I work at a juvenile detention center. At the time, I went into the dorm to relieve another staff for a break, during that time I noticed a youth’s window covered and door closed. I unlocked the door and asked the youth what was going on, the youth advised me that he was taking a hygiene and that the other staff in dorm had approved it. I didn’t want to go any further into the room, that would be a PREA violation. I closed the door and stood by it. My fellow co-worker then approached me and said they were refusing to come out of the room, that’s when I became aware that there were 2 youth inside the room. I then knocked on the door and advised them to come out. A few minutes later, both youth exited the room. I asked them what they were doing in there, they said working out and didn’t give me any further details. I assumed something might have occurred but I wasn’t completely sure and I wanted confirmation before I made an allegation or assumption. I learned that the youth were using a cell phone while in the room. However, I had no prior knowledge before going into the dorm nor did I ever see an actual phone or have substantial evidence to prove it. Therefore I didn’t report this. Can I be terminated or charged with criminal charges?

Asked on April 13, 2019 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You cannot be charged with criminal charges unless there is evidence that you knowingly allowed them to violate the law: criminal liability depends on your knowledge or intent, and acting without a criminal intent does not make you criminally liable.
Unless you have a written employment contract (or your position is covered by a union or collective bargaining agreement) which would prevcent your suspension or termination for this reason, however, they may suspend or terminate you. Except when protected by a contract, you are an "employee at will" and may be disciplined, up to and including termination, at any time, for any reason.


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