It is important for children to learn about all aspects of the criminal justice system, including the procedural rules, the rights of criminal defendants, and the penalties imposed for certain crimes. Few would agree, though, that their education should involve prosecuting school-age children in a manner similar to how criminal defendants are prosecuted by the state. In Illinois, however, some schools are ticketing children and forcing them to pay substantial fines under the threat of greater consequences. If you have questions regarding ticketing in schools, it is wise to speak to an Illinois criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Ticketing in Illinois Schools
Reportedly, Illinois law permits schools to “ticket” children for minor infractions. While the tickets do not result in criminal charges, they allege that the children violated municipal ordinances at school and require them to attend hearings in a courthouse. Not only must the children who are ticketed miss school to attend such hearings, they also must decide whether to agree to pay fines or challenge the ticket at a hearing held at a later date. They are cautioned, however, that failing to pay the fine could damage their credit scores or impact their future driving privileges.
It is alleged that the acts that lead to such tickets are typically minor: one 12-year-old student received a ticket for shoving a friend, while a 16-year-old student was cited for truancy, and a 14-year-old student was caught with a vape pen. As many as thirty students have been summoned to Illinois courthouses on any given day.
Police throughout Illinois issue tickets to thousands of students each year, typically for behavior that would have been handled by school administrators in the past, like littering, using profanity, and yelling. Notably, issuing tickets to students appears to violate the intent of Illinois law, which bars schools from imposing fines as a form of discipline. By issuing tickets via the police rather than directly, though, the schools appear to have found a loophole.
Unlike criminal defendants, who have a constitutional right to legal representation, students who are ticketed in schools do not have the right to be represented by counsel at hearings and typically lack the capacity to defend themselves against charges that could impact them for the rest of their lives. Further, the fines imposed pursuant to the tickets can be burdensome for many families, and if they go unpaid, they may be sent to collections or deducted from the child’s parent’s tax refund. While children should undoubtedly be corrected when they behave poorly, the current system of ticketing them and imposing fines likely does more harm than good.
Contact a Skilled Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney
Whether they are issued for driving offenses or other infractions, tickets are more than a minor inconvenience; they can impact your finances, liberties, and insurance rates. If you need assistance with a traffic or ticketing issue, it is prudent to contact an attorney. Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a skilled Illinois traffic violation defense attorney who can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach Mr. Harvatin via the form online or at 217.525.0520 to set up a meeting.