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Schoolyard game turns into criminal charges

At what point does a game turn into something criminal? That is something that an 18-year-old high school student's criminal defence attorney will have to flesh out when his or her client appears in court. What started as an ill-advised but innocent game has turned into a serious assault charge against the teenager.

The incident arose in a schoolyard in Tilbury when Chatham-Kent police say that a 16-year-old offered students the chance to slap him in exchange for cash. When the 18-year-old went to give it a go, the younger student apparently lost consciousness and hit his head on the ground. He was taken to a hospital in London with a concussion.

It is certainly obvious that games like this do pose the risk of danger, but can they really be considered criminal? Is it not fair to categorize this as the older student not knowing his or her own strength? Is it really worth charging a high school student, someone who has just become an adult, with a very serious crime, one that could severely impact him or her for the rest of his life? At what point to we look at the student who first offered to let students slap him as being partially to blame for his concussion?

A criminal charge, even the most minor of them, carry significant weight, and it is important that the Crown carefully choose when it is appropriate to file charges. Had the teenager gone up to his or her classmate and slapped him without any forewarning, an assault charge may be warranted, but slapping someone as part of a game? That may not be enough to classify as a crime.

Source: Metro News, "Slaps for cash game leads to assault charges for Ontario student," Luke Simcoe, 27 Nov. 2013

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