Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pocketknife in HS Senior's Car Leads to Arrest for Crime/Felony

Note that I use both terms "felony" and "crime" as they denote the same severity of criminal offence. Felony is an older term that is synonymous with the more modern term crime.

This should serve as a wake-up call to any young person who attends school.

School polices have become ever more draconian is regards to weapons, toy/replica weapons, or anything that could be remotely perceived as a weapon. The mere act of forgetting to remove an item from one's vehicle - let alone a backpack, may well result in one's career aspirations being removed from consideration. .

Criminal case law in the US tends to give school administrators a fair amount of discretionary authority to search students, their personal items and lockers, and vehicles. Although Fourth Amendment rights do not stop at the doors of schools, the courts have generally supported superintendents, principles, and vice-principles in cases in which prohibited or illegal items have been found during searches that were executed without the benefit of warrants. As these individuals are charged with maintaining a safe environment for all students, and law enforcement authorities are bound by court ruling such as Mapp v. Ohio* (restricts admissibility of evidence seized without warrants or probable cause) , school officials understandably have taken a more proactive approach to prevent and locate prohibited or illegal items.

When, however, this option for administrators becomes merged by circumstance with zero-tolerance polices,  the consequences can be dire and beyond belief:.

The young man featured in the article below appears to have screwed up, and badly so. He cannot but be aware of his school's polices, and he no doubt has read or heard of accounts of students across the nation being suspended for high crimes such as playing cops and robbers on the playground. He had to have known better and would likely have no reason to protest  if his only punishment was a suspension of reasonable length from school. What he does not appear to be is a someone who acted with criminal intent, Absent also is any reason to think that he is an individual who poses as actual an cop or firefighter and goes about stopping people or lighting fires to again attention or appear to be a hero.

School officials may well have gone too far in searching this kid's car in the first place (which unlike criminal cases  tends to be a non-factor in regards to ensuing school disciplinary action), but what has happened to him at the hands of the police and the courts is beyond comprehension:

"Meet Jordan Wiser, a high school senior you might call an overachiever.

Enrolled in an Ohio vocational-technical school, Wiser was taking Firefighter 2 and EMT courses to bolster his dream of future public service.

“Last year, I completed the law enforcement course,” the 18-year-old told The Huffington Post. “I received several certifications, including the National Terror Defense certification from FEMA, the Terror Recognition certification and (certification as an) Emergency Vehicle Operator.”

Wiser also joined the Army, enrolling the Future Soldiers program, and was scheduled to ship out in August. After his planned military service, he figured he’d embark on a career as a police officer or firefighter.

But Wiser’s big dreams of public service are on hold. In fact, he’s now enduring a nightmare.

It all started Dec. 12 when administrators at Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus (A-Tech) in Jefferson, Ohio — about 60 miles northeast of Cleveland — questioned Wiser after an alleged tip regarding videos uploaded to Wiser’s YouTube account. Among the clips are reviews of video games and merchandise, home defense tactics, and an interview with a local police officer.

“The principal said he had reason to believe I had weapons in my vehicle and needed to search it,” Wiser told the Huffington Post. “He made me empty out all my pockets, and the vice principal grabbed me and patted me down very forcibly. It was somewhat awkward. Then they took my car keys. I told them what was in my car and said, ‘Don’t be alarmed.’”,,,,,,,,,

And what did they find inside Wiser’s vehicle? A folding blade pocketknife, a stun gun and two Airsoft guns.

Airsoft is a game akin to paintball in which participants shoot each other with round non-metallic pellets, and Wiser said he had plans for an Airsoft game after school. The stun gun was for self-defense, he said, adding that the pocketknife was part of his EMT kit.

“My stun gun was locked in the glove box,” Wiser told the Huffington Post, “and the knife was in my EMT medical vest. I bought it at K-Mart and have it as part of my first responder kit for cutting seatbelts.”
Wiser was arrested and jailed for illegal conveyance of a weapon onto a school ground, a Class 5 felony.

Harold Specht, the chief assistant prosecutor at the Ashtabula County prosecutor’s office, said the charge is related only to the pocketknife.

I was in jail for almost 13 days,” Wiser told the Huffington Post. “The first bond hearing I went to was on December 15. The judge ordered me [to be] held on a half million-dollar bond, pending a psychological evaluation. I did that and passed. They found I was not suicidal, homicidal or a threat to anybody. My attorney brought it up in front of a different judge, who let me out on a $50,000 bond and an ankle monitor. I was released from jail on Christmas Eve.”........

There are kids at my school all the time who get caught with knives and are suspended,” he told the Huffington Post. “My school is very rural, and people carry knives. I can accept the fact that there was a lapse in judgment, and I can accept a punishment, but I have already been expelled from both the tech school and my home school.” Jerome Brockway, the A-Tech superintendent, declined to discuss the case.

And since Wiser’s felony charge, he said the Army discharged him pending a not-guilty verdict or dropped charges without prejudice.

That’s not all. If the felony charge sticks, things could get way worse.

“If I am convicted of a felony, I’m never going to be a police officer. I’m never going to be a fireman. I’m never going to be in the military,” he added. “I won’t even be able to be a janitor. I’m 18 years old, and this is going to ruin my entire life.”
If all of the knocks against Wiser weren’t enough, he added that the conditions of his bond prohibit him from contact with his grandfather, who is dying from cancer.

“The one judge I went in front of told me to remove any firearms from my parents’ house and put them at my grandpa’s house,” Wiser said. “The next judge freaked out about me even knowing what a gun is and put a no-contact order against me and my grandparents. My grandfather is dying right now, and I am not allowed within 500 feet of him.”

There was a petition on that demanded Wiser’s charges be reduced to a misdemeanor, and within 48 hours, it attracted 1,349 signatures. But Wiser said he asked that the petition be closed, which it was.

“The court threatened to hold sanctions against me and my lawyer,” Wiser told the Huffington Post. “I guess the prosecutor was upset because his inbox had been flooded with emails as a result of the petition.”

Specht said he’s aware “there’s a load of people out here that just think we’re the devil because we’re allegedly ruining this young kid’s life,” but he insisted that’s not the case and that the felony charge is justified and there are no plans to reduce the charge.............."

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