Severe Bodily Injury? assault charges being filed against teen son

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risingup

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My 17 year old son instigated a fight in the high school cafeteria with another student who did not engage in the fight and was subsequently injured. (we live in PA) He has a broken jaw, lost a tooth and bruising and cuts in his mouth from his teeth - does this constitute serious bodily injury? Also would aggravated assault charges be filed for this instead of simple assault charges that it was initially stated to me by the state police officer would be filed against my son pending the extent of the injured student's injuries.

My son's behavior is horrible in this matter and he will have many consequences till this whole matter has played out with the school district and in the juvenile courts - I am not in dispute of this fact. He instigated the matter, although it was not his intent to cause serious injury and my son has much remorse over his actions. My son has ADHD, ODD and a learning disability, therefore he has an IEP and is provided with special education services which means that he is covered by the special education laws in regards to discipline. He has no prior police/legal involvement and has no prior disciplinary history at his high school for violent behavior of any type (he has had several in school suspensions for violating school rules - ex: cutting class with friends and spending a class period in an empty classroom.) This gets to the why/what of my post - I need to find out whether a broken jaw constitutes "serious bodily injury" for two issues. The first is an upcoming school district manifest determination regarding this matter as the school district administration has informed me that after my son's 5 day suspension they plan to have my son removed to an alternative education placement. If a broken jaw does not constitute "serious bodily injury" the administrator cannot make this determination for alternate placement as the decision then needs to be decided by the IEP team at a manifest determination hearing which is taking place on Monday. While I understand the school districts position on this matter and am not entirely opposed to my son being placed in an alternate placement, I am absolutely opposed to the facility that the administrator has informed me that the school district plans to have my son sent to as it is a facility for the most severe juvenile offenders. While what my son has done is horrendous, this incident is not part of a pattern of violent or illegal behavior but rather an isolated incident.

The second part of this matter is that he is going to have juvenile charges brought against him per the state police officer called in after this incident occurred - charges of either simple assault or aggravated assault dependent upon the severity of the student's injuries. It is my understanding that if the injuries inflicted upon this student are considered "severe bodily injury" that the injuries will warrant the aggravated assault charge vs the simple assault and that my son could potentially be required to serve time in a juvenile detention facility? I have no idea how the juvenile courts work as my son has never done anything like this before or been in legal trouble before and I have no idea how to navigate the juvenile legal systems.

Any information would be greatly appreciated at this point!


Special Education discipline law:
(g) Special circumstances. School personnel may remove a student to an interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 school days without regard to whether the behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the child's disability, if the child--

(1) Carries a weapon to or possesses a weapon at school, on school premises, or to or at a school function under the jurisdiction of an SEA or an LEA;

(2) Knowingly possesses or uses illegal drugs, or sells or solicits the sale of a controlled substance, while at school, on school premises, or at a school function under the jurisdiction of an SEA or an LEA; or

(3) Has inflicted serious bodily injury upon another person while at school, on school premises, or at a school function under the jurisdiction of an SEA or an LEA.


218 U.S.C. 1365(h)(3) states that the term “serious bodily injury” means bodily injury which involves— (A) a substantial risk of death; (B) extreme physical pain; (C) protracted and obvious disfigurement; or (D) protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.
 
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if someone broke your jaw, don't you think it would be serious? I know you are just looking out for your son, but in most cases a broken jaw is serious. A lot of times people with broken jaws have to have surgery to fix the problem. He has missing teeth, too. That's a lot more medical stuff to have to deal with. I would be less worried about having my son in an alternative school. I would be more worried that the parents of the kid that got hurt will be filing a civil suit against you and your son. Don't think it won't happen. I would file on both of you if it was my son with a broken jaw.

I'm sorry you are in this situation and that I can't be more sympathetic with you, but I don't see a broken jaw as not serious. Broken Jaw=Extreme Physical Pain.

Good luck to you and your son. I hope everything works out for you.
 
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...although it was not his intent to cause serious injury and my son has much remorse over his actions...

First, I am not a lawyer and I suggest that you consult one. Let me offer you my layman's understanding and any more knowledgeable people can correct me if I'm wrong.

I think there is a common misunderstanding about intent--the legal definition is unexpectedly different from what we normally think of in the context of intending to do something. You can show intent even if the defendant didn't actually intend to do the specific events that unfolded. If your case were to go to trial, the prosecution would have no problem proving intent.

My suggestion is that you have your son personally apologize to the other party, including the parents, and that you seek leniency and any deal possible with the authorities in terms of punishment. I wouldn't try using your son's disabilities as an excuse.
 
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