In February, Mason made a poor decision and decided to leave his closed campus school for lunch, along with ten of his classmates. (Juniors and seniors are allowed to leave for lunch; freshman, like Mason, and sophomores are not.) When I was in school, kids who left campus usually did so to smoke. Not my kid. My kid got caught going to Little Caesar’s.
The kids’ path led them out the backside of the school and through an adjacent parking lot, where a police officer was waiting for them. To teach the kids a lesson, the officer cited each of them for trespassing — again, for walking across a parking lot. And when I say “teach the kids a lesson” we know the kids are not paying this fine.
Trivia Fact #1: A ticket for trespassing in Yukon, Oklahoma is $325.
Trivia Fact #2: $325 x 11 = $3,575.
When Mason came home that evening with his tail between his legs, Susan took a look at the ticket and noticed that it had the wrong address written on it. The kids had been at west Vandement, but the ticket said they were trespassing at east Vandement. This was our ace in the hole!
Trivia Fact #3: Once, after receiving a ticket in high school, I threw myself at the mercy of the court. I told the judge that I couldn’t afford the ticket, much less a hike in insurance rates. I told him I was sorry, and that my parents had already grounded me. I believe the judge’s response was, in not so many words, “Who cares?”
Susan and Mason went to court in March. Mason pleaded not guilty, and the judge said “come back in April.”
On April 11 (Tuesday), Susan and Mason returned to court, along with dozens of other Yukon teens, including ten others who had been cited for trespassing.
When the judge asked if Mason or Susan had anything to say, Susan asked to have the ticket dismissed based on the fact that the address on the ticket was incorrect, and listed a location Mason could not possibly have reached on foot during his lunch period.
I believe the judge’s response was, in not so many words, “Who cares?” The officer then attempted to immediately amend the citation.
Trivia Fact #4: Having the wrong address on a trespassing citation does not automatically void it in Yukon, Oklahoma.
When the judge asked if Mason had anything else to say for himself, he said that he had already received detention from the school, been grounded from his motorcycle, and had to do a week’s worth of yard chores around the house. The judge said “I think these things are better dealt with at home,” found Mason guilty, and dismissed the fine.
All’s well that ends well, I suppose. I can’t help but think back to all the times I remember kids skipping school when I was a kid. Kids talked about the truancy officer as if he were a bogey man in a suit capturing kids with a giant butterfly net. I remember kids leaving campus and walking across the street to Dairy Queen to smoke and bum cigarettes from customers. Back then, when kids got caught doing this they were either slapped on the wrist or dragged back to the school by their ear. I don’t remember anyone ever getting a $325 citation for trespassing.