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Baby tooth saves teen from having felony on his record

By David Ovalle • Updated Dec 29, 2017 at 12:43 AM

MIAMI — A baby tooth saved a teen from having a felony on his record.

An appeals court on Wednesday threw out the felony battery charge levied against a teen who punched a classmate on a Miami-Dade school bus, knocking out a baby tooth. The reason: The 12-year-old victim’s adult tooth grew in just fine.

Miami’s Third District Court of Appeal rejected prosecutors’ contention that the lost baby tooth qualified as “great bodily harm.”

“The State emphasizes that the victim lost a tooth but diminishes the clear evidence that this was not a permanent, disfiguring injury,” Judge Richard Suarez wrote in the unanimous opinion. “The trial transcript indicates that (the) adult tooth had grown in without incident.”

The teen, identified as D.M., was arrested in 2015 and adjudicated guilty in juvenile court.

He was also granted a “withhold of adjudication,” which meant he could say he wasn’t technically convicted. The Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office nevertheless appealed, saying the felony wasn’t warranted because the victim never even went to a doctor or a dentist for his injury.

It wasn’t all good news for D.M.: The appeals court, which also rejected his self-defense claim, ordered that his charge be replaced with a misdemeanor count of simple battery.


©2017 Miami Herald

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