Disturbing a School Assembly, as defined in Massachusetts law:
Whoever willfully interrupts or disturbs an assembly of people meeting for a lawful purpose shall be punished […] provided, however, that an elementary or secondary student shall not be adjudged a delinquent child for an alleged violation of this section for such conduct within school buildings or on school grounds or in the course of school-related events.
Requirements for Conviction
In order to secure a conviction, the prosecution will need to prove that:
- the defendant engaged in conduct which most people would find to be unreasonably disruptive (loud noises, offensive conduct, threatening, fighting, insulting provocation).
- the defendant’s actions were done intentionally, and not by accident or mistake.
- the defendant did in fact annoy or disturb at least one person.
Penalties for disturbing a school assembly include imprisonment for not more than 1 month or by a fine of not more than $50. Aside from the potential jail time, a conviction can lead to a permanent mark on a criminal background check.
Further Facts & Considerations
Disturbing a school assembly is currently written into law in 20 states and was originally enacted in the early 20th Century to protect students from outside adults. However, during the Civil Rights Era, these laws began to be used against students within the schools.
These disturbances prohibit and instill penalties for those found guilty of disturbing the operations of a school. In some states, merely “disturbing school” is a crime, with the law giving no further definition or guidance to those charged with enforcing the law. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the nuances of the law pertaining to Massachusetts.
Although there are 20 states that have these laws in place, they remain actively enforced by only some. It is reported that nationally, 10,000 juveniles are charged with “disturbing school” each year, in addition to those who are charged as adults.
If you or your child is charged with disturbing a school assembly, call us at 781-797-0555 for a free telephone consultation today.