Expulsion for Possession of a Dangerous Object

Your child is facing an expulsion hearing for possessing a dangerous object. What can you do?


Expulsion is serious business. A full expulsion lasts for one year. If expelled, your child faces attending a county school filled with other young adults expelled from around your area. It is not an ideal learning situation, obviously. Also, the long-term effects of an expulsion are not promising. Therefore, it is important that you take this seriously. Thus, you must do everything in your power to try to either prevail in the expulsion hearing or negotiate another outcome before the hearing.


Per 48900(b), a child can be suspended and recommended for expulsion if it can be shown that the student…

(b) Possessed, sold, or otherwise furnished a firearm, knife, explosive, or other dangerous object, unless, in the case of possession of an object of this type, the pupil had obtained written permission to possess the item from a certificated school employee, which is concurred in by the principal or the designee of the principal.


As in any school discipline case, you must determine if the law provides your child with special rights due to a disability. If your child is currently attending school with either a 504 or an IEP, they have rights. These rights are applicable to a defense for possession of dangerous object. Any defense here must show that their possession was related to their disability. Especially relevant are such things as impulse control problems, failure to understand right versus wrong, and paranoia. These things can show that the student’s actions were caused by their disability.


While not technically a defense, it can be important mitigating evidence to show that your child felt genuinely threatened by another person. Often times, when students bring weapons to school, they are doing so because they believe their safety is truly at risk. Remember that administrative panels are made of educators. They are truly concerned for student safety. If a genuine question of victimization can be raised, panel members are more likely to show compassion for your child.


Once again, while not a defense, a genuine mistake can persuade panel members to show mercy on a student. I once had a child who took his school backpack on a fishing trip. When he came back, he forgot to take the filet blade out of the front pocket. Through photographs, we were able to show that the student had no ill intent in having the blade on campus, it was there by genuine mistake. In this case, the panel decided against expulsion.


While certainly a lower standard than that which the police are held to, school personnel still need to have had some cause to search a student. Any thorough defense will explore whether the administrator had such cause. Absent that, the expulsion must be dropped.


Additionally, procedural deadlines and requirements are sometimes unmet. The outcome is important. Have an individual knowledgeable in school expulsions review the paperwork, and determine whether all these important procedural requirements were met.

Finally, please do not minimize the importance of avoiding a school expulsion for your child. Keep in mind, you have a legal right to bring a lawyer to the expulsion hearing, 48918(5). Relevantly, I offer relatively inexpensive flat fee rates. Therefore, you will never be surprised by a big bill if you retain my firm to represent your child.

Finally, if you are unable to afford an attorney, review this  helpful guide.

Fighting a Potential Expulsion for Terrorist Threats in California

Over the past year I have been contacted by and represented parents whose children are being recommended for expulsion for the making of terrorist threats here in Orange County, California. Based on my experiences, I know that Southern California school districts are playing fast and loose with the definition of what constitutes a terrorist threat. If your child is currently suspended and/or faces an expulsion hearing for making a terrorist threat, make no mistake, this is a very serious matter. Fortunately, there are many defenses available in these matters.

This code governing this area of suspension states…

48900.7. (a) In addition to the reasons specified in Sections
48900, 48900.2, 48900.3, and 48900.4, a pupil may be suspended from
school or recommended for expulsion if the superintendent or the
principal of the school in which the pupil is enrolled determines
that the pupil has made terroristic threats against school officials
or school property, or both.
(b) For the purposes of this section, “terroristic threat” shall
include any statement, whether written or oral, by a person who
willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death,
great bodily injury to another person, or property damage in excess
of one thousand dollars ($1,000), with the specific intent that the
statement is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of
actually carrying it out, which, on its face and under the
circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, unconditional,
immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a
gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the
threat, and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained
fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family’s
safety, or for the protection of school district property, or the
personal property of the person threatened or his or her immediate

This code lays out some legally significant requirements that districts often either do not understand or choose to ignore.

First off, in order to prove an expellable offense, the school district must show that the student had the “specific intent” for the statement to be perceived as a threat. Specific intent is normally defined as intentionally or knowingly. In some cases I have handled, this element is entirely missing in the case brought by the district. There are many case specific facts which can be argued to show that a student had no specific intent for their statements to be taken as a threat.

Second, I have also handled cases where districts have not honored the requirement that there must be an “immediate prospect of execution of the threat.” Once again, this is a fact intensive analysis of the specific words used by the student. In many cases, there are strong arguments to be made that no reasonable person should have felt immediately threatened by the words written or spoken by the student.

Third, there is a requirement that threat be “unconditional.” Once again, an analysis of the statements which are basis for the disciplinary action can often undermine that the assertion was unconditional.

These three examples are some of the most common problems with terrorist threat school expulsion cases brought by school districts, but this list is far from exhaustive. There are many common mistakes that districts make and which an experienced attorney can leverage into either completely prevailing in establishing a child cannot be suspended or expelled or in reducing the consequences

to something less severe.

School expulsion can have a permanent impact on a child’s future. If your child faces an expulsion hearing in Southern California, having proper representation can often be the difference between a successful defense versus a year-long removal from their home school. Please contact The Law Office of Gregory R. Branch if your child has been suspended or faces expulsion for making a terrorist threat. I offer flat fee expulsion rates so that there are no expensive surprises.