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Prosecutors consider felony weapons charges against 10-year-old

For one 10-year-old boy, life may never be the same. The fifth-grade student is allegedly the newest child to be caught with what appeared to be, but wasn't, a gun on school property. A local district attorney's office has said that it has not yet indicted the child, but it is considering filing a felony firearm charge against the 10-year-old. In addition to the severe criminal sanctions the juvenile could be facing, he may also be expelled from his elementary school, creating both a criminal and academic record that may haunt him for years to come.

While most Maryland weapons charges go hand in hand with an allegation of violent crime, that is not always the case. In some situations, police may believe someone was brandishing a weapon, but later found out it was a toy or replica. Also, out of concern for school safety, numerous school districts across Maryland have adopted tight controls that sometimes can leave students expelled or facing criminal charges for brining nothing more than a realistic-looking toy to school.

Sadly, this Colorado boy may be just another victim of his school district and county policies. The school claims that the 10-year-old was seen with an orange flare gun while playing with two friends on the school playground. Like any other boy, when a teacher came up and wanted to take the gun, he allegedly tried to hide it, but the teacher eventually took the unloaded flare gun and the three boys to school administrators.

At this point, the police were called for a supposed violation of the school district's discipline code, which mandates expulsion for carrying an unloaded or fake gun to school.

This kind of situation could easily happen in Silver Spring or Washington, D.C. There are numerous children who like to play with realistic-looking toy guns and some of them may accidentally bring them to school. Just because a child has a toy that could be mistaken for a real gun does not mean he or she should automatically be expelled or, worse yet, face serious criminal charges.

Source: Loveland Reporter-Herald, "Van Buren Elementary student brings unloaded flare gun to school," Madeline Novey, Jan. 11, 2012

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

Law Offices of James N. Papirmeister, Esq.
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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013