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Girl arrested in kidnapping prank given chance to avoid juvenile court
By Charles Keeshan and Lee Filas | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/7/2010 8:30 AM | Updated: 9/7/2010 6:03 PM

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An 11-year-old girl arrested for leaving a note falsely claiming she had been kidnapped may not have to appear in juvenile court to face a felony disorderly conduct charge, officials said Tuesday.

Instead, if the girl abides by a set of rules and conditions set out by police and her father for the next six months, she can avoid the court system altogether.

"She has no record and she's only 11," said Richmond police Det. Pamela Hewett, the officer who took the girl into custody Aug. 12 and helped set out the conditions of her release. "Her record will still show a criminal charge on the offense, but it will also show she was never sent into the court system."

The girl was taken into custody one day after she wrote a note claiming she been kidnapped and left it inside the McHenry Savings Bank in Richmond. The note, found by a bank customer, claimed the girl had been missing since 2009 and asked for someone to contact authorities for help, police said.

After an extensive investigation, the girl was found safe less than 24 hours later at her father's home in Harvard, police said. Her father, Hewett said, has custody of the girl.

"She had no explanation (for her actions)," Hewett said. "It was an error in her judgment."

Police charged the girl with a felony version of disorderly conduct because her actions caused authorities to respond to a life-threatening situation that the offender knew did not to exist, officials said in a news release. But rather than forwarding to charge to juvenile court, Hewett instead conducted a process known as an informal station adjustment to give the girl a chance to avoid court.

The conditions of avoiding court, Hewett said, include writing a letter of apology, losing television privileges at home and being restricted to her yard when playing outside.

"She felt bad about giving everybody the scare that she did, and the resources that were used to look for her," Hewett added. "She regrets what she did."