Texas Father Arrested On Theft Charges After Taking 12-Year-Old Daughter’s Cell Phone As Punishment

A Texas father was arrested and charged with a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by to up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine, after he took his 12-year-old daughter’s cell phone as a punishment. The daughter allegedly sent an inappropriate text to another child, so the father took the phone as a means of punishment. However, the girl’s mother said that the father had no right to take the phone and filed charges against the man. As a result, the 36-year-old father, Ronald Jackson, was arrested and went to trial over the phone punishment.

The Daily Mail reports that a Texas father was arrested and put on trial after he took his 12-year-old daughter’s phone away from her as a punishment for sending an “inappropriate” text message. Ronald Jackson found a text message on his daughter’s phone back in 2013 that he felt was inappropriate for a teen girl. The text contained a message he says was incredibly rude to another young girl, and he wanted to teach his daughter a lesson on kindness towards others. Therefore, he took the girl’s iPhone 4 into his possession.

However, the girl’s mother, Michelle Steppe, was not happy about the confiscation of the girl’s property so filed theft charges against the father. The mother and father had never been married, and the father had only started seeing his daughter when she turned 7-years-old. Therefore, the mother said he had no right to take the girl’s phone. She also says that the phone was in her name, so he legally had no grounds to keep the phone. She filed a police report noting that Jackson had stolen her property.

As a result of the stolen property report, police went to Jackson’s house and demanded that the phone be returned to its rightful owner, the 12-year-old girl. Jackson said he immediately refused as he felt the police were trying to tell him how to parent.

“At that point, I decided the police don’t interfere with my ability to parent my daughter.”

According to WFAA, a few months after Jackson refused to return the phone, he received a citation in the mail for a Class C misdemeanor of theft of property between $50 to $500. In January 2014, the prosecutors offered Jackson a plea deal if he would return the phone, but he refused and hired a lawyer and said he would take the case to trial. After he refused to take the plea deal, the city attorney’s office requested for the case to be dismissed and then refiled the case with a harsher offense, a Class B misdemeanor. The new offense allowed for a judge to issue an arrest warrant, and Jackson was arrested at his home in April 2015 and released on $1,500 bond.

A jury trial was finally completed this week in which Jackson maintained he was simply trying to parent his child and teach her a lesson. Instead, he says the whole ordeal ended with his arrest and the destruction of his relationship with his daughter, who is now 15-years-old and testified against him in court. It was also noted that the mother’s current husband is a police office, which has led Jackson to file a federal complaint against the way the police and city attorney handled the situation.

Fortunately for Jackson, a jury found him not guilty of the charges and concluded he was simply parenting his daughter legally. As a result, Jackson has decided to keep the phone as he says the mother has ensured that he and his daughter will have no relationship going forward.

“I can’t ever have a relationship with them again.”

Meanwhile, the mother, Michelle Steppe, was frustrated with the outcome of the case, stating that the case proves that “even if you purchase something with your own money and have a receipt, it’s not yours.”

What do you think about the father being arrested for taking his 12-year-old daughter’s phone as punishment? Do you think the parents could have handled the situation better, working together for a punishment resolution instead of involving the police?

[Image via Shutterstock]

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