Baby tooth saves teenager from felony charge

Court rules student did not cause 'great bodily harm' when he punched classmate

MIAMI – A Florida appeals court threw out a Miami-Dade County teenager's felony battery charge Wednesday, saying that the boy didn't cause great bodily harm because he only knocked out a classmate's baby tooth.

According to court records, the boy, then 13 years old, got into a fight on a school bus with a 12-year-old classmate. The boy said he punched the 12-year-old in the jaw after the younger boy repeatedly tapped the back of his head, court records said.

Court records said when the 12-year-old returned home, one of his lower teeth fell out. The younger boy's parents later pressed charges. After the fight, the missing baby tooth was replaced by an adult tooth.

A juvenile court adjudicated the case, leading to the felony charge.

The appeals court ruled that because the victim's tooth grew back in without incident or disfigurement, the felony charge was not appropriate. The victim did not see a doctor or dentist after the assault, the records said.

A misdemeanor count of simple battery will remain on the teenager's record. However, the judge who wrote the opinion questioned why the courts were involved in the first place.

"It really should not have gotten to the trial court at all, but should have been resolved by the school authorities and parties," Judge Carlos Suarez wrote.