Titled: Police Officer’s Discretionary Powers
In exercising discretion, police can handle youth informally or decide to refer cases to juvenile court for formal handling. Offense seriousness and the totality of circumstances are important variables affecting how police deal with youth. The term discretion is often as selective decision-making by police and others in the juvenile justice system who are faced with alternative modes of action.
I. Review the news brief on the juvenile case from the summary and the video link below.
“A 16-year-old boy was arrested and a 14-year-old girl was cited by San Bernardino County Sheriffs in connection with a high school sexting scandal at Etiwanda High School.
- The 16-year-old boy was held at juvenile hall on a felony charge of obscene matter depicting a minor engaging in or simulating sexual conduct, police said. According to officials, the 14-year-old girl was cited with a misdemeanor for allegedly distributing obscene.
The investigation ensued when police were alerted to tweets and texts of nude photos of at least four underage girls from Etiwanda and Rancho Cucamonga high schools. The juvenile, who attended Etiwanda High School, allegedly tweeted nude photos of the girlsLinks to an external site., who attend Rancho Cucamonga High School.
The female students took pictures of themselves and distributed them via text messages, according to investigators. The male student then posted the images on Twitter. Federal law prohibits the “production, distribution, reception, and possession of an image of child pornography.” The legal definition of sexually explicit conduct does not require that the image depicts a minor engaging in sexual activity.
The boy was accused of allegedly tweeting nude photos of girls. The girl was cited on a less-serious charge of distributing obscene matters (Kandel 2013)
II. Respond to the following questions:
Q: The male juvenile was arrested and the minor female received a citation. What were some of the factors affecting the discretion of the officers when dealing with the juveniles in this case?
Q: Should both have been arrested and/or cited or neither option?