A 16-year-old boy was recently arrested at his school after a handgun was found in his backpack. The student, along with a group of boys, had left a school bathroom and a teacher smelled marijuana. All of the students were taken to the principal’s office where a search uncovered the handgun. The student is now being held in juvenile detention awaiting a hearing.
This incident raises several important issues that would be helpful for parents to understand about the unlawful possession of a handgun on school property.
Student Privacy Rights
The Texas Constitution says that students have a right to be free from “unreasonable” searches while on school property or while attending school activities. There needs to be a justifiable reason to search a student’s person or property before the search begins. And the scope of the search (their person, their locker, their car) needs to be reasonable as well.
Learn more about student’s rights in searches from the Texas Association of School Boards.
Guns on School Grounds
Two federal laws regulate the possession of firearms in or within 1,000 feet of a K-12 school. And Texas state law prohibits people (with some exceptions) from taking an open or concealed firearm into a school building or any building or grounds where a school-sponsored activity is being conducted, or on a passenger vehicle operated by a school.
Texas does not allow the keeping of a firearm, unloaded and locked, in or on a vehicle in a K-12 parking lot. Texas also allows guns to be carried on campus by law enforcement, school marshals, volunteer emergency services staff, and school resource officers, or those with special authorization.
It is a 3rd degree felony to carry a firearm on school property if a person is not lawfully allowed to do so.
Age and Guns
Although Texas gun laws have recently change, but age is still a relevant factor. The new law allows anyone aged 21 and older to carry a handgun as long as they don’t have a prior violent crime conviction or some other prohibition on their record.
Know Your Rights
Hearing from a police officer that your child has been arrested is every parent’s worst nightmare. What is going to happen next? What rights does your child have? What can you do to protect his future?
One of the most important things a Ft. Worth juvenile defense attorney will do for a young person and his/her family is educate them. Having the facts, understanding the juvenile system and the process, and developing a plan to move forward can help with the anxiety everyone is feeling in this situation.
If your son or daughter has been arrested for unlawful possession of a handgun in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, call the juvenile defense attorneys at Lee and Wood, LP: 817-678-6771 or contact us online. We will explain everything you need to know.