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Florida Criminalizes Electronic Threats

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With school shootings in the news, many school officials are cracking down on electronic threats. To the student who writes them, these threats might be harmless fun. However, many Florida statutes criminalize making threats using electronic communications. If you or your child has been arrested for making an electronic threat, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner.

Florida Law

A threatening email, text, or social media post might run afoul of many different Florida statutes, including:

  • Stat. § 836.10. This statute makes it a second-degree felony to send a threat to kill or bodily injure another person or threaten to commit a mass shooting. It covers electronic communications. If convicted, you can face up to 15 years in prison.
  • Stat. § 784.048(2). This statute makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to engage in cyberstalking. If convicted, you can face up to a year in jail.
  • Stat. § 784.048(5). This section covers cyberstalking someone who is under age 16. It is a third-degree felony, which carries up to 5 years in prison.
  • Stat. § 784.089(3). This statute covers aggravated cyberstalking, which involves a credible threat that causes another to fear for their safety. It is a third-degree felony which carries up to 5 years in prison.

As you can see, these offenses carry substantial penalties, which do not include collateral consequences like a difficulty obtaining a job or apartment because of your criminal record. Although children under 18 are typically prosecuted as minors, any child who is 18 or older could be spending time in jail.

Students and Electronic Threats

Many parents are unaware of their children’s rights in school, having not read the Code of Student Conduct that should be sent home. This code should explain when and how students can use electronic communication devices while on school property. The code should also explain how officials can search a student’s property.

A key issue involves lockers. Many schools claim lockers are the school’s property, so school officials can search the lockers without any need of reasonable suspicion that your child has committed a crime. Also, Fla. Stat. § 1006.09(9) gives principals the legal authority to perform a search if they have reasonable suspicion that an illegal item is contained in a locker or storage area. Parents should expect school officials to make full use of this authority, especially if they have reason to suspect your child sent a threatening electronic communication to the school or another student.

Get the Legal Representation You Need

At Bundza & Rodriguez, we hear from parents who are worried when their children get picked up for a crime. With all school officials worried about potential attacks at school, many are adopting zero-tolerance policies for students who make threats.

If you or your child has been arrested for making an electronic threat, we want to hear from you. Building a successful criminal defense takes time and begins from the first moment you make contact with the police. Our Daytona Beach criminal defense attorneys have successfully represented many defendants, and we know how prosecutors tick. Schedule your free consultation by calling 386-252-5170.

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