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Child-Parent Responsibility and Juvenile Charges in Florida


Across the country, parents, children, and even entire communities have faced the very real threat of school shootings and campus violence, especially in the last few years. Gun violence often results in criminal charges, fines, and even jail time, especially in cases where students and teachers are injured or killed. But when a school shooting scenario turns out to be a hoax, initiated by one of the students, the consequences can be equally daunting, criminal defense attorneys in Sanford say, and may even extend beyond the prankster to the parents. 

Last month, a 12-year-old boy from Seminole County was arrested for calling 911 and reporting the presence of a gunman at Lake Mary High School, a report that authorities later discovered to be false, although not until after the school and surrounding community was gripped with widespread panic. The boy was charged with misusing an emergency number, providing false information to the police, making a false report in the commission of a crime, and disturbing his school environment. He spent the weekend in jail, and was picked up by his family the following Monday. 

All four of the boy’s charges are misdemeanors in Florida, but may carry serious consequences in court, criminal defense attorneys in Sanford say. The state’s juvenile court system has jurisdiction for anyone charged with a crime under the age of 18. If the boy is found to be guilty, he will be adjudicated “delinquent,” a label that will likely have long-lasting impact on his employment, education, and personal future. Persons with a juvenile record may have difficulties applying for their drivers’ licenses, financial aid or tuition assistance, and could be barred from certain jobs or schools later in life. Under Florida’s laws, judges who oversee juvenile trials do not have to warn them or their families about the far-reaching consequences of pleading guilty to misdemeanor juvenile crimes. 

Additionally, charges could be brought against the boy’s parents or guardians, under the state’s laws regarding parental responsibility over minors and their criminal activity. Florida is one of several states that have enacted legislation holding parents responsible when their children are charged with certain crimes, including gun crimes. Although this case did not involve an actual gunman, the panic-fueled scenario caused by the boy’s 911 report may come back on the parents. His parents may also face a bill from the local law enforcement agency, who wasted several thousand dollars in manpower and resources, not to mention time, to respond to what was ultimately a false report. 

At the Law Offices of Ryan N. Yadav, we understand that children often do not grasp the seriousness of a situation until well after the fact, and may not realize the consequences of what seems to be a simple prank. If your child is facing criminal or misdemeanor charges as a juvenile, you need a criminal defense attorney to protect you both. Contact Ryan N. Yadav, a criminal defense lawyer serving Sanford and the surrounding counties, for a free, no-strings consultation today.