Q: My son is 13 years old and refuses to go to school. How does unruly child work?
A: Thank you for your question. Unruly child means a child in need of treatment and rehabilitation who:
(i) Habitually and without justification is truant from school while subject to compulsory school attendance; or
(ii) Habitually is disobedient of the reasonable and lawful commands of the child's parent(s), guardian or other legal custodian to the degree that such child's health and safety are endangered; or
(iii) Commits an offense that is applicable only to a child; or
(iv) Is away from the home, residence or any other residential placement of the child's parent(s), guardian or other legal custodian without their consent.
So, your child would likely be considered unruly under section (i) and almost definitely under section (ii). To commence an Unruly child petition, you can either call local police (use the non-emergency number unless an emergency exists) to come and take your child before a judicial commissioner in your county, or you may do so yourself if you believe you can do so safely. The judicial commissioner will listen to your testimony and/or the testimony of the police, and decide whether a petition is issued. If a petition is issued, your child may be briefly detained (usually only a few hours). A date will be set for your child to appear before a Juvenile Court Judge, then the child will then be released into your custody with the understanding that you will have to bring them before the Juvenile Court Judge or Magistrate.
At the hearing, the judge or magistrate will listen to the case and decide if the petition is well taken. If so, the court will find your child unruly and will issue an order that your child will have to follow. This order usually has some form of community service and states that the child must attend school and listen to their parents.
Be aware that court costs may be assessed at this hearing. Also, the order of the court may affect you as well. Judges can order you to participate in your child's treatment, participate in the child's community service (or order separate community service for you), supervise the child and/or seek treatment for the child.
I wish you the best of luck in handling your legal issue. As always, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney in your local jurisdiction and provide them all the facts before deciding on a course of action.
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