California Case Law - The FindLaw California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal Opinion Summaries Blog

Officer Can't Arrest Student for 'Abysmal' Truancy, Court Rules

What do you do when your kids won't get out of bed and go to school?

Send them to their room. No wait, that won't work. Take away their cell phone? Pull out your hair?

When all else fails, call the cops. You think that's a joke? So did a California appeals court in People v. R.M.

"Mouthy 17-Year-Old"

The state First District Court of Appeal could have called it the case of the "mouthy 17-year-old." Actually, that's how the judges described "R.M."

She chronically skipped school and pushed it to the criminal point of no return. Standing in the school parking lot, she refused -- with profanity-filled emphasis -- to obey a sheriff deputy who ordered her to go to class.

Her next stop, in handcuffs, was juvenile hall. A judge sustained allegations that she violated Penal Code Section 148, and gave her 15 days in custody to think about it.

On appeal, the First District reversed. The appellate judges said the officer didn't have authority to make the student go to class.

"Almost Comical"

The deputy's duty ended at the parking lot, the appeals court said. After that, it was up to school authorities to shepherd the student into the classroom.

The judges seemed to bleed for the parents, however. Calling the cops on unruly kids might be some parents' last resort, they said.

"This case would be almost comical if it were not so troubling," the appeals court said.

Related Resources: