Police Now Arresting Juveniles & Charging Them with Felonies for Certain “Jokes”
Following the shootings at numerous high schools in Florida, in late August, police arrested a Florida teen for making an online threat to shoot up his high school in a video game, and are now charging him with a felony (second- or third-degree). While police are understandably under a significant amount of pressure to follow-up on any and all leads and take drastic action when it comes to potential mass shootings at schools – especially given that one deputy is now being prosecuted for failing to take action to prevent the Parkland shooting – some are also wondering if it is perhaps going too far to choose to prosecute the juvenile as an adult for what is clearly a juvenile crime that never came to fruition.
The Law in Florida & Similarly Charged Juveniles: What About Free Speech Rights?
This recent teen is, reportedly, the fifth Floridian charged with this same crime; just this month (August). While there is a law in Florida that indicates that any written threat to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting (or a similar act) is a second-degree felony, it appears that law enforcement is not treating these crimes equally when it comes to these suspects, and some of these incidents are questionable in terms of where to draw the line when it comes to free speech versus incitement and disorderly conduct. For example, one other teen who was also recently arrested after reportedly posting a message on social media that discussed the possibility of carrying a weapon (and showing an image of a school classroom in the process). is only being held in juvenile detention for 21 days and is set to be interviewed by a psychologist. Prosecutors have not yet decided if he will face the same felony charge of “electronic threat to kill.”
Conversely, police are treating a separate issue very seriously by charging two 14-year-old Florida girls for conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in connection with a teacher reportedly finding a folder that allegedly contained notes relating to a kidnapping and murder plot that involved guns and transporting dead bodies. Although the girls have maintained that it was simply a prank, they are reportedly facing three counts of criminal attempt to conspire to kidnap, which is a third-degree felony, and nine counts of criminal attempt to conspire to commit premeditated homicide, which is a capital felony.
Contact Our Florida Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys
It is clear that the Florida sheriff’s offices involved have indicated that it is no longer legal to joke about these issues; regardless of free speech rights.
If you or a loved one are being charged with a juvenile crime, or have a minor who is being charged as an adult, you are understandably concerned about the long-term impacts on their lives; as you should be. Contact our Miami and Orlando juvenile crime attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.