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Right on Crime | December 27, 2011
A New Mexico public school has allegedly prescribed an unusually heavy penalty for some unusually minor misbehavior.
The alleged criminal behavior was burping in school. The penalty was an arrest and referral to a juvenile detention center for counseling.
Under Article 20, Section 13 of New Mexico’s Criminal Code, it is a petty misdemeanor to willfully interfere with public schools, and one 13-year-old Albuquerque student claims he was arrested for this misdemeanor after burping in class.
The boy has since filed suit against the teacher, school resource officer, and principal.
While burping might not be polite social behavior, most certainly would not consider it worthy of an arrest. The alleged facts of this case, if true, would indicate that overcriminalization is slowly creeping into our schools.
Interference with public education is a valid concern for the New Mexico legislature, but applying this statute to burping during class would be a misuse of public resources without any significant public benefit.