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Turbie
08-11-2012, 12:15 AM
Hi there!
I love that this forum exists because there are so many times when you need specific info for a story that you just can't find elsewhere on the internet. You guys seem very helpful. :)

Alright, so I'm writing back story for a character in my novel. He's a male about 13 years old. Basically, he and and his father have a very strained relationship. His father is physically abusive at times, and one night it escalates so much so that they end up in a fistfight. The boy eventually grabs his dad's keys and locks himself in the car to escape his father, who ends up punching through the glass to get to him (sidenote: that is possible, right?). The boy finally steals the car and drives off to get away, pulling off on the side of the road to sleep, where he is found by a cop the next morning.

My question is:
What would the cop's procedure have to be? The kid obviously looks pretty bad. Would he have to take him to the hospital or could the boy opt out and just go to the police station?
I decided to have the dad press charges for the car's theft. Could the boy be put into foster care or would he immediately go to juvie? Would the dad also go to jail for child abuse or could he weasel out of it?

Thanks so much! I wish I could find more about how the legal system works in these specific cases, but so far it's been hard to find out.

WeaselFire
08-11-2012, 12:20 AM
1) Punching out a car window will break your hand and not even scratch the window. Hammer blows don't break modern car windows. The secret is a sharp punch, pointed hammer head, etc. A window breaker is common on rescue tools and is a really simple spring-loaded punch. Google would tell you all of this.

2) Depends on your state/country as to what the process might be. In the US, every court system has a juvenile division with advocacy groups (Normally a Guardian Ad Litem program) that will be happy to talk to you.

Jeff

WeaselFire
08-11-2012, 12:22 AM
Just saw your post count. Welcome to AW! :)

Jeff

jclarkdawe
08-11-2012, 12:35 AM
Assuming the police decide that your facts are what happened, the kid wouldn't be charged with anything. You've got at best mutual combat, with the taking necessary to get away from violence. Dad would be charged with abuse, and get a high bail probably.

However, in a separate proceeding in family court, dad would be charged with abuse. Mom would be charged with neglect if any evidence exists that she knew about the abuse. If mom sides with dad, junior goes into placement. If mom sides with junior, junior goes home with mom. Too frequently mom sides with dad. Placement would be either a foster home or group home, depending upon bed availability.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Nekko
08-11-2012, 07:03 AM
Assuming the police decide that your facts are what happened, the kid wouldn't be charged with anything. You've got at best mutual combat, with the taking necessary to get away from violence. Dad would be charged with abuse, and get a high bail probably.


Not quite so easy as all that, at least not in California. CPS (Child Protective Services) would have to be called in to investigate the allegations of child abuse. Just because the kid looks beat up doesn't mean that the legal system would just go on his word. Interview with mom, if she's even in the picture, neighbors, maybe school authorities. Kid would be interviewed by CPS worker. Kid could be separated from both parents until the investigation was done. Dad would be removed from the home and probably sit in jail until the investigation was done.

The cop may have no choice but to cover his/her ass and take the kid to the hospital. He's a juvenile, he doesn't get to decide his own fate. If child abuse is suspected, the doctors will be asked to do a thorough exam. They would look for evidence of past abuse: scars, other marks. If dad beat kid up enough this time they might take x-rays which - depending on how you want your story to go, could show evidence of past breaks, stress fractures.

Since dad filed charges, kid would probably go to juvy once he was cleared from the hospital. You don't place a kid awaiting trial in foster care.
I don't think the cops have the discretion to decide on their own if the charges were bogus. That would be up to the prosector. And yes, even good parents can press car theft charges against their kids.

If no charges for car theft - then kid would go to a foster home until the abuse charges were fully investigated.

Turbie
08-11-2012, 07:40 AM
Thanks so much, everyone!
Yeah, I googled the whole "punch through car window" thing. It seemed, you know, plausible but not probable. I was hoping I could stretch it.
I've been trying to figure out which direction to go with the story, and it kind of depends on the real-life laws that my character would have to navigate through. CPS laws seem so cloudy (as does the legal system in general--not my forte), so I really appreciate the help.

jclarkdawe
08-11-2012, 03:35 PM
Originally Posted by jclarkdawe http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7508860#post7508860)
Assuming the police decide that your facts are what happened, the kid wouldn't be charged with anything. You've got at best mutual combat, with the taking necessary to get away from violence. Dad would be charged with abuse, and get a high bail probably.
Not quite so easy as all that, at least not in California. CPS (Child Protective Services) would have to be called in to investigate the allegations of child abuse. Just because the kid looks beat up doesn't mean that the legal system would just go on his word. Interview with mom, if she's even in the picture, neighbors, maybe school authorities. Kid would be interviewed by CPS worker. Kid could be separated from both parents until the investigation was done. Dad would be removed from the home and probably sit in jail until the investigation was done.

The cop may have no choice but to cover his/her ass and take the kid to the hospital. He's a juvenile, he doesn't get to decide his own fate. If child abuse is suspected, the doctors will be asked to do a thorough exam. They would look for evidence of past abuse: scars, other marks. If dad beat kid up enough this time they might take x-rays which - depending on how you want your story to go, could show evidence of past breaks, stress fractures.

Since dad filed charges, kid would probably go to juvy once he was cleared from the hospital. You don't place a kid awaiting trial in foster care.
I don't think the cops have the discretion to decide on their own if the charges were bogus. That would be up to the prosector. And yes, even good parents can press car theft charges against their kids.

If no charges for car theft - then kid would go to a foster home until the abuse charges were fully investigated.

Notice the section I highlighted and bolded from my answer. Once the police have determine what they believe to be the facts should be when they act. Whether they are mistaken as to which facts they believe is always possible. CPS being called in may happen, or the police may make the determination within their department.

But if the police determine that the kid instigated the entire thing, he's going to be the one in a world of hurt.

Bottom line there are a wide variety of results possible depending upon which facts the police believe. On a question where the variables are immense, I intentionally limited myself to those facts that the OP implied that the police believed.


Thanks so much, everyone!
Yeah, I googled the whole "punch through car window" thing. It seemed, you know, plausible but not probable. I was hoping I could stretch it.

I've been trying to figure out which direction to go with the story, and it kind of depends on the real-life laws that my character would have to navigate through. CPS laws seem so cloudy (as does the legal system in general--not my forte), so I really appreciate the help.

Taking out a car window is a skill fire departments practice. Even with the tools Weasel described, there's some skill involved in doing this quickly and cleanly.

CPS laws are a bit cloudy, but it's more often the fact pattern presented that's a mess. It is a lot easier to answer these types of questions by knowing what the plot needs. I can give you facts to get the kid locked up in juvie all the way to the kid getting pinned with a medal.

Not aimed solely at the OP, but way too many questions posted in this forum are a lot harder for experts to answer because of the poster's failure to tell us what the plot needs. Instead of a quick, specific answer (saving the expert's time), we end up confusing the poster even more because we know there's a wide variety of answers. Net result is some of us avoid answering the question because we're not sure what the question is. Tell us what the plot needs and we can give you very exact answers.

For instance, since we know you want to pop the window, we know your person has no special knowledge, and the person does not have any access to special tools, I can suggest an axe or hatchet. Both with a good, sharp whack will go through a window. You'll need to work at it to take out the whole window, however. And it presents problems as to why he doesn't use the hatchet on the kid. But it's the best answer I can give you. Baseball bats (metal) can be used, but you've got to reverse them and use them at an angle, so that's sort of out.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Turbie
08-11-2012, 09:51 PM
Not aimed solely at the OP, but way too many questions posted in this forum are a lot harder for experts to answer because of the poster's failure to tell us what the plot needs. Instead of a quick, specific answer (saving the expert's time), we end up confusing the poster even more because we know there's a wide variety of answers. Net result is some of us avoid answering the question because we're not sure what the question is. Tell us what the plot needs and we can give you very exact answers.

For instance, since we know you want to pop the window, we know your person has no special knowledge, and the person does not have any access to special tools, I can suggest an axe or hatchet. Both with a good, sharp whack will go through a window. You'll need to work at it to take out the whole window, however. And it presents problems as to why he doesn't use the hatchet on the kid. But it's the best answer I can give you. Baseball bats (metal) can be used, but you've got to reverse them and use them at an angle, so that's sort of out.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Yeah, sorry about that. It probably was a bit of a convoluted question. The car is a classic from around 1960. I'm not sure if that would have bearing on the strength of the glass. As for the kid--I was hoping to have the brunt of punishment fall on his shoulders, rather than his dad's. I'm thinking what I should probably do is figure out some more specifics on my own, and that way I can ask questions that are a little more pointed. Thanks for the help!

jclarkdawe
08-12-2012, 04:35 AM
Yeah, sorry about that. It actually screws you more than anyone else because it gives you bad answers. It probably was a bit of a convoluted question. Not particularly.

The car is a classic from around 1960. I'm not sure if that would have bearing on the strength of the glass. A big impact. This was before airbags and mandatory seatbelts and crush zones and a whole lot more safety innovations you've never even noticed. Not only is the glass different, but the rubber gaskets that hold it in place has had a significant opportunity to decompose.

The glass in different places is slightly different in manufacturer, with the windshield being the strongest. Back then the little vent windows were notoriously easy to pop out. But the door windows could be broken fairly easily (not as easily as sheet glass windows) and I'd have no problems believing a guy taking it out with his fist or elbow.

As for the kid--I was hoping to have the brunt of punishment fall on his shoulders, rather than his dad's. Then have the kid swing first. The kid could have been beaten in the past, but past abuse as a self defense claim has been noticeably less then successful. For self defense, you have to have a duty to retreat, absent certain circumstances. In domestic violence, this is implied to mean you have a duty to leave after the abuse rather then offing the guy after he passes out.

So if junior swings first, especially landing a good hit with a black eye and dad landing on the floor (he doesn't have to stay down), then Junior is assaulting his father. Junior's subsequent actions aren't as justified then as they are when Junior is trying to escape from an unjustified assault that his father starts.

I'm thinking what I should probably do is figure out some more specifics on my own, and that way I can ask questions that are a little more pointed. Seriously, just tell us what the plot needs. You've got experts to come up with the solution, let them. Thanks for the help! You're welcome.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Turbie
08-14-2012, 11:35 PM
Okay, I had to rework the story a little. To summarize, it's like this:

Junior is in trouble with Dad for something minor. Junior mouths off, Dad gets up in his face, Junior gets a good punch in. Dad retaliates and they end up in an all-out fist fight. Junior is outmatched, so he wriggles out of the fight, grabs Dad's keys and locks himself in the car. Dad pursues and ends up punching through the window trying to reach him. Junior throws the car in reverse and takes off, eventually pulling off to the side of a country road to sleep. A cop finds him there the next morning.

My main question was, what would the cop be required to do (since Junior's obviously not looking so good after the fight), and do you have any idea what the respective punishments of both Junior and Dad would be? Again, I appreciate it.