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Common sense for the win: student will not be charged after all

In our last post, we talked about a high school student who was expelled from school and on the brink of facing felony criminal charges for a very minor incident. The 16-year-old girl simply put aluminum foil and a cleaning agent in a water bottle and, boom, the mixture was volatile. The bottle popped and smoked -- but it was deemed that the girl made a destructive weapon.

Well nearly 200,000 signatures later from an online petition, and the power of common sense has changed the minds of investigators, who will not formally charge the girl with felony criminal activity. She will still receive a probationary sentence (called an "offer of diversion"), where her criminal history will remain clean. The 16-year-old will likely perform community service.

This criminal defense story garnered national attention because of the seemingly ridiculous punishment this girl was expected to receive. The girl's life has still been forever altered -- her expulsion from school remains, and she just recently was placed in an alternative school. But keeping her record clean is a major step. Criminal histories haunt must people, making it difficult to find a place to live or to attain work.

For many young people, who are prone to making silly decisions that result in criminal charges, a criminal history can ruin their life. That is why it is great to see this common sense decision by criminal investigators. The justice system could learn a lot from this incident, such as when it is appropriate to defer criminal charges.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Kiera Wilmot, student who caused small explosion, won't face charges," Leslie Postal, May 15, 2103

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