The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida sparked a wave of copycat threats across the nation, many of which have been hoaxes. In Volusia County, Florida, so many students have threatened their schools that the local sheriff, Michael Clintwood, has warned families that those threats will cost them — literally. Families of students who threaten or joke about violence will pay a monetary fine of $1,082 or higher for the resources that go into investigating each threat.
Several students in their early to mid-teens across the country are facing felony charges and prison time for threatening violence or making jokes about guns at school because law enforcement officers are no longer tolerating such behavior. Although many students making these threats are minors, police are responding more harshly than ever before.
What Changed Since Parkland?
Seventeen people died in the Parkland massacre, which many believe could have been prevented had authorities taken the shooter’s long and troublesome history with law enforcement more seriously. Police had appeared at the shooter’s home dozens of times before he began to make threats online. Twice, concerned citizens warned the FBI that the shooter would likely take action on his threats. Despite countless red flags, nothing prevented the 19-year old, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student who had been banned from the campus, from getting his hands on a semi-automatic rifle and murdering students and staff.
Since the tragedy, police throughout Florida have been responding severely to threats of violence at schools, no matter how trivial the threats may seem. Students who threaten schools through social media, verbally or in writing, are at high risk for facing criminal consequences that will have a lasting effect on their futures. Many students claim they were joking; however, that is no longer an excuse that gets them off the hook.
Threats of violence use up a significant amount of police resources and spread fear in their communities. Students lose copious hours of education because a fellow student used poor judgment to elicit a certain response from classmates and peers. Unfortunately, copycat threats that may or may not have substance skyrocket after high-profile shootings. After Parkland, school systems throughout the U.S. are no longer taking chances; teens can expect to face severe legal consequences for their actions.
As a Parent, What Can I Do if My Teen is Arrested?
As of March 4, 2018, the number of school threats and violent incidents has shot up to 797 according to the Educator’s School Safety Network. As time passes, it’s expected the rate of new school threats will drop. While parents hope their children won’t get themselves into serious trouble, they can’t control what their children say and do 24/7. In the unfortunate scenario that your child faces felony charges for threatening to kill or do bodily harm, they deserve quality legal representation to protect their future.
Attorney Brian Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel has over 30 years of experience fighting felony charges. Securing a skilled criminal defense lawyer as early as possible in the investigation can improve your child’s chances of obtaining a favorable outcome, especially if he or she is a first-time offender. It is possible that your child may be eligible for a diversion program in lieu of time behind bars.
Call 561-622-5575 or contact us to find out more about how your child can redeem his or her future.