Yesterday, I was at the checkout counter in Jo-Ann Fabrics. I was talking to the cashier as she was ringing my items up. In the middle of the transaction, she told me that she was a Duval County high school teacher. I told her that I was a Jacksonville juvenile lawyer and criminal defense attorney. We had something in common since we both work with teenagers. She told me a story about a student who was on probation in Jacksonville to the Department of Juvenile Justice. While on probation, he was involved in a fight at school. The school called his mother. When she arrived at the school, she began reprimanding her son. Feeling embarrassed and frustrated, the son hit his mother.
When I hear something like this, I think about the charges that the teenager will be facing in Jacksonville juvenile criminal court. In the scenario above, the child may be charged with two misdemeanors. As for the school fight, he may be charged with simple battery in Jacksonville under Section 784.03 of the Florida Statutes. If he did not commit battery on another student, but was instead engaged in mutual combat, both students involved in the fight may be charged with affray in Jacksonville. The child that hit is mother could be charged under the Florida domestic battery law for hitting his mother. Both simple battery and domestic battery are misdemeanors, unless there are other factors involved that would reclassify or aggravate the offense. It is also important to point out that the child will go before the Duval County juvenile judge that placed him on probation in the first place. He will need to answer for the probation violation.
It is strange that I was just having this discussion with a woman in the St. Johns Town Center yesterday, and today I read an article that makes this scenario seem minor. First Coast News of Jacksonville reported on a story entitled, “JSO: 2 minors arrested, officer hospitalized after ‘chaotic’ melee on Westside.” The story was about a fight between two juveniles that escalated into more. The local news story gave the following information about the incident:
“Two teenage males were arrested and an officer was taken to the hospital after what investigators are calling a large melee involving half a dozen police and 50 people at a Westside apartment complex Thursday evening, authorities said. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene at Lenox Court Apartments, located in the 5700 block of Lenox Avenue, at some point Thursday in response to the brawl…. JSO says the two boys arrested on Thursday night were 14 and 16-years-old, respectively. When police arrived to break it up, the youths – some armed with weapons like bats – allegedly turned on them and started fighting the officers, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The 14-year-old arrested was tased after a brief struggle with officers. The JSO officer who was injured suffered a dislocated right shoulder after the fight with the 14- and 16-year-old suspects, according to police. Officer M.D. Kahre was taken to St. Vincent’s with his minor injury and released Friday morning.”
The two boys were arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer. This is a third-degree felony under Florida Statute Section 784.07(2)(b). The Florida Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer law states:
“Whenever any person is charged with knowingly committing an assault or battery upon a law enforcement officer…. the offense for which the person is charged shall be reclassified as follows…. In the case of battery, from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the third degree.”
The Jacksonville news article only stated that two teenagers were arrested. I find this strange considering that the article reported “a large melee involving half a dozen police and 50 people.” The article also stated, “When police arrived to break it up, the youths – some armed with weapons like bats – allegedly turned on them and started fighting the officers.” The article makes it sound like there was a rather large group of young people confronting the police, but no one was arrested for resisting an officer with or without violence, disorderly conduct, affray or inciting a riot.