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Chronic Truancy Leads to Criminal Charges

Posted at May 21st, 2010 in Criminal Defense, Truancy, Uncategorized

Did you ever think that if your kids miss school it could be a crime?  Truancy is a crime and although it is the child who may be skipping school, it is the parent who faces the criminal charges.  It is the parents’ responsibility to make sure that their children attend school, and the parent who will be charged with truancy and face fines or jail time if their child becomes a chronic truant.  But don’t worry, if charged with truancy, a criminal defense attorney can help to present your side of the story to the court and hopefully negotiate with the prosecutor and plead with the judge to dismiss all criminal charges.  An aggressive criminal lawyer knows that putting a parent in jail is detrimental to a child’s welfare and will show the difficult circumstances, such as illness, mental health, or family troubles that have kept your child from school. 

School districts take a variety of approaches to combating truancy.  Some take the hardball approach.  For example, 38 parents have been charged with truancy in Jefferson County as part of the school districts campaign to reduce the number of absences.  In these cases the children of the parents charged were absent between 16 and 60 days of school in the last year.  If convicted of truancy these parents could be facing up to a year in jail and/or a $500 fine.  A criminal defense lawyer knows that these are serious charges to be facing.  As a hardworking parent you will not want any criminal charge on your record, no matter the severity of the crime.

A few school districts in New York are taking alternative action before truancy progresses to the level where criminal charges are filed and a criminal defense lawyer is involved.  Truancy Court is designed to address the problem of chronic absenteeism and make both the student and the parent responsible.  Truancy Court brings the truant child and their parents before a special judge who evaluates their progress on a regular basis and creates a program that they have to follow including after school programs that help with homework and goals for grades.  Thousands of school children in New York miss school every week in and the hope is that Truancy Court will offer a more positive solution to the large number of absences.   

Why is truancy a crime?  For one, schools receive part of their funding based on daily attendance, so every time your child skips school, that can mean one less book that the school can buy next year.  In addition, truancy is a precursor to other more serious crimes.  Children who are chronic truants are at much higher risk of being involved in more serious criminal behavior.  As a parent you never want the day to come when you are calling a criminal lawyer because your son/daughter has landed in jail.  So keep your kid in school and your record clear of truancy charges; it will be better for your future and the future of your child.

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