Felony for snowball

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AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
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Felony for snowball

Snowball Thrown at Officer Draws Felony for Boy, 13, Outrage From Residents - South Austin - DNAinfo.com Chicago

AUSTIN ? A day after a boy was arrested and charged with a felony for throwing a snowball at a police officer, students outside George Leland Elementary continued to build snowmen and throw snowballs at each other after school.

According to police, a 13-year-old boy was charged as a juvenile with felony aggravated battery against a police officer Wednesday after he hit the officer in the arm with a snowball while the officer was parked in his vehicle in the 4900 block of West Congress Parkway about 3:20 p.m.

Residents sounded off on the crime and punishment the next day, many describing the charge as police "going overboard."

"It's not fair," said Mary Grant, a longtime resident of the block. The boy "was being hardheaded, but that's very harsh. The officer should've tried something different than arrest."

The boy is believed to be a student at Leland Elementary School, formerly May Elementary, which sits at the southeast corner of the intersection near where the snowball was thrown. Officials at the school acknowledged that the incident occurred but declined to comment.

"I think that's ridiculous ? it's such a big charge," said Latanya Powell, a construction worker on the block. "It's just going overboard. I can see if it were a weapon and harm was done, but it was just a snowball.

"This is a case of kids being kids."

Like other residents on the block, Powell wondered whether the charge would stain the boy's record well into his adult years, hurting his chances of finding a job, housing and education.

Often, findings on juveniles found delinquent do not remain part of their permanent record.

But according to Ray Fields, an educator and resident of the block, the charge and arrest were justified.

"If [the boy] had gotten away with it, who's to say what they'd do next? If it doesn't stick to them now, they'll be 16 or 17, and they'll have a gun," Fields said, adding that he has experience with local teens as a teacher and was the victim of a home burglary by neighborhood teens in 2010.

"If we as parents and educators don't teach them right from wrong, then what are we teaching them?" Fields added, arguing that the charge could help the boy change his ways before a more serious incident occurs.

Police did not provide further details on the case Thursday night.

Debate - Was a felony an appropriate punishment? If not, what would have been a better punishment? Did the police officer over react?

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

I had to think about this one for a while, and my DH & I discussed it over the weekend. We both came to think that this is a good punishment. It's not like the officer accidentally stepped into the middle of a snowball fight and got hit. The officer was sitting in his parked car when he was hit, quite deliberately it seems. Yes, it was "just" a snowball but the more important thing is the intent. The kid deliberately threw a snowball (which can hurt pretty badly if packed hard enough, or if there's a pebble scooped up with it, etc.) not only at someone who was not part of the snowball fight, but at a freaking cop. What if he'd thrown it at an old woman, who then fell and hit her head and died? Throwing an object of any kind at someone who has not agreed to the game, is battery, whether there was harm done or not. And throwing an object of any kind at a police officer is just downright stupid. Yes, he needs to be held accountable and this is a good punishment. He was charged as a juvenile, which means his record is wiped clean when he turns 18 as long as he straightens up and stays out of trouble.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6567

"Spacers" wrote:

I had to think about this one for a while, and my DH & I discussed it over the weekend. We both came to think that this is a good punishment. It's not like the officer accidentally stepped into the middle of a snowball fight and got hit. The officer was sitting in his parked car when he was hit, quite deliberately it seems. Yes, it was "just" a snowball but the more important thing is the intent. The kid deliberately threw a snowball (which can hurt pretty badly if packed hard enough, or if there's a pebble scooped up with it, etc.) not only at someone who was not part of the snowball fight, but at a freaking cop. What if he'd thrown it at an old woman, who then fell and hit her head and died? Throwing an object of any kind at someone who has not agreed to the game, is battery, whether there was harm done or not. And throwing an object of any kind at a police officer is just downright stupid. Yes, he needs to be held accountable and this is a good punishment. He was charged as a juvenile, which means his record is wiped clean when he turns 18 as long as he straightens up and stays out of trouble.

I disagree. A felony was an over board consequence that will have a lasting effect. I am not saying not to do anything, but a felony is too much.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

How is it going to have "a lasting effect" when his record is expunged at age 18?

Also, some states don't have a misdemeanor classification for aggravated battery so felony is the only option. The definitions of what constitutes aggravated battery vs. simple battery vary by state, but this being Texas, I'd bet it might be similar to Kansas which is: intentionally causing physical contact with another person when done in a rude, insulting or angry manner. That seems to fit this case.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6567

"Spacers" wrote:

How is it going to have "a lasting effect" when his record is expunged at age 18?

Also, some states don't have a misdemeanor classification for aggravated battery so felony is the only option. The definitions of what constitutes aggravated battery vs. simple battery vary by state, but this being Texas, I'd bet it might be similar to Kansas which is: intentionally causing physical contact with another person when done in a rude, insulting or angry manner. That seems to fit this case.

A felony can effect a lot of things. Getting into college, jobs, stigma. That is a HUGE consequence for something that was not that serious. I think community service would be a much better punishment.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

You don't think that deliberately throwing an object at a police officer is "not that serious," really? We're talking about a 13-year-old. He's old enough to know better than to throw things at a cop. Yes, I'd like it on his record that he was charged with a felony for this because someone who would do something like this needs a good wake-up call before he does more stupid and more dangerous things and someone really gets hurt. Community service can be part of his punishment, rather than jail time or fine. I'd be fine with that. And he's probably going to plead down to misdemeanor anyway, or go through a diversion program which will wipe it off his record immediately, so it's not going to affect his college or job chances. Not one bit.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6567

"Spacers" wrote:

And he's probably going to plead down to misdemeanor anyway, or go through a diversion program which will wipe it off his record immediately, so it's not going to affect his college or job chances. Not one bit.

That is assuming a lot. I do not see where that was offered. Community service is a wake up. Before something worse happening. The something worse happening is a felony. The idea of a felony for a snowball is in my opinion ridiculous.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

Substitute "bottle" or "rock" for "snowball" and see if you still feel the same way. It actually doesn't matter *what* he threw; it only matters that he threw it, with intent, at someone else who didn't want to be hit with it. That the someone else was a cop, and that he knew he was throwing it at a cop, does make it "something worse" IMHO.

ETA: alternative sentencing and plea deals are not offered at the time of arrest, so you would not see that as being offered. They are negotiated with attorneys later. I can't imagine that a 13yo first offender (if this *is* his first offense) would NOT be offered one or the other.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6567

A snowball is way different than a rock or bottle. Throwing snowballs is something children are encouraged to do in play and is not necessarily a malicious act. If it is assumed that a felony is too much and that they would plea down, don't give the felony in the first place.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

The cop didn't wander into a game of snowball fight and get hit accidentally. He was sitting in his parked car, and this kid intentionally threw a snowball at him. That absolutely is malicious. Willful intent, and malicious, and if the state of Texas considers that to be a felony, I'm not going to argue about it. That's what his defense attorney is for.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6567

What Are Examples of Felonies and Misdemeanors?

Ok. We are talking about a kid throwing a snowball being a felony and a DUI being a misdemeanor... Felony typically means things like rape, murder, selling drugs, and throwing a snowball.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4103

That's a general overview. States can set specifics and knowledge and intent are often the keys between the two. You can kill someone -- accidentally but still through your own actions -- and face only a misdemeanor charge. This kid knowingly, willfully and intentionally threw that snowball -- and Kim's daughter can certainly tell you can hurt like hell and cause injuries. Since there was snow on the ground for a snowball fight, if he'd hit someone else, they might have slipped and fallen and been seriously hurt. Get past "it's just a snowball" and accept the fact that he did something that could have been very dangerous. He might have faced a misdemeanor homicide charge if the person he hit had slipped & hit their head & died, but that doesn't diminish the fact that what he did do, appears to be a felony, at least in some states.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I just wanted to point out that the police dont always have 'options' on what they can charge people with. A set offence, throwing and object with the intention to hit a police officer, carries a set charge. It is then up to the prosecutors (or crown council in Canada) to determine if that charge is warranted, if they want to plead down, etc. Then if it goes to court it would be up to a judge to give a sentence. The police officer cannot just give 'community service'. They do not give sentences, they can only charge someone and pass on the information.

Minx_Kristi's picture
Joined: 01/02/09
Posts: 1261

I think this is absolutely ridiculous.

If they wanted to teach the boy a lesson, then a couple of hours in custody would have been sufficient if still not a tad over the top.

xx