As technology and peoples’ online interactions advance at a staggering pace, the criminal justice system in Florida and across the country are struggling to keep up. While the pursuit is aimed at protecting the general public, it is important to preserve individual rights and ensure the correct people are held accountable and punished appropriately. This is particularly true for juvenile offenders, who usually have a limited concept of the possible consequences, but nevertheless can face harsh, even permanent penalties.
New Online Written Threats Law Applied to 8th Grader
Recently, a teenage boy was at home playing video games and communicating with a group of classmates, who were also playing. This conversation primarily centered around the game, but when another player frustrated the boy in question, he opened a private thread and began venting his frustrations, allegedly making comments like, “I’m going to kill her.”
While this was certainly a hurtful comment, a third party forwarded the childish exchange to the individual referenced and when the girl’s mother became aware, the police were also notified. This led to the boy being charged with making written threats to kill or do bodily injury according to a new law directed at threats made over social media. Specifically, under Florida statute 836.10, it is a second-degree felony for any person to write or compose and send any letter, inscribed communication, or electronic communication, whether such letter or communication is signed or anonymous, to any person, containing a threat to kill or to do bodily injury to the person to whom such letter or communication is sent.
Even though this boy was a straight A student with an unblemished record, the young man was confronted with the juvenile court system, which not only included possible time in a facility for youthful offenders, but he was also removed from school pending the outcome of the case, and faced the possibility of being sent to an alternative school. To avoid having his life unnecessarily turned upside-down, the boy’s family contacted Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. and hired experienced Sarasota defense lawyer Erika Valcarcel.
Effective Representation and a Strong Defense
Attorney Valcarcel immediately set to work to protect the young man’s rights and hopefully forego any lasting impact on his future. This was a relatively new law and after thoroughly reviewing the matter, it became clear that the law was not appropriately applied. Essentially, she argued that while the comment was fairly innocuous, it was actually another person who passed on the alleged threat. By illustrating that her client did not send the message, he had no intention of making a threat, so the case could not be supported. Additionally, Valcarcel demonstrated the overall weakness of the case because it was not clear how the prosecutor was going to show that her client was the genuine author of the threat.
By discussing the accurate interpretation of the statute and the obvious problems with authenticating the message itself, attorney Valcarcel facilitated a complete dismissal before it was formally pursued. Due to her aggressive and thorough approach, this young client was free to return to school before any significant consequences began limiting his future.
Contact Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. Today
It is becoming increasingly difficult to see how technology and the law coalesce, but at Varcarcel Law, attorney Erika Valcarcel knows the importance of preserving your loved one’s record, especially from a young age. If your son or daughter is accused of a crime relating to social media or online threats, call (941) 363-7900 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.