Often, people post things on social media that they don't mean or intend to be a joke. However, when those posts threaten acts of violence or other criminal activity, law enforcement has to take them seriously.
Two Florida local high school students have learned that lesson the hard way. They are facing charges after threatening other students on social media.
A 15-year-old Shalimar boy has been charged with a felony for allegedly posting a video on SnapChat with a message reading "Don't come to skool tomorrow" over a picture of a weapon that looked like an AK-47. (It was actually a toy Airsoft gun.)
The teen, who is a student at Fort Walton Beach High School, reportedly told a deputy with the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office that he had posted the video as a joke and that he didn't think anyone would take it seriously. However, a student who saw the video was frightened by it and emailed it to the school resource officer and principal.
In another case, a student at Navarre High School in Santa Rosa County is under investigation for committing a felony after allegedly posting messages on Facebook threatening to shoot up the school. The student (whose name and gender were not reported) also allegedly made specific threats toward one or more students.
The Navarre High student hasn't yet been arrested, although the sheriff's office said that the student is facing felony charges. They say that the student posted the threats under someone else's name.
One law enforcement spokesman, who noted how seriously they take threats made on social media, said, "Unfortunately for those who decide to commit these crimes, they leave an obvious digital trail for investigators to follow."
If your child has been charged with making threats on social media, whether toward an individual or a group, it's essential to understand the impact that a conviction could have on his or her future. Even if the threats were meant as a joke or to scare someone, the criminal penalties can be serious.
If kids manage to avoid these penalties, they can still face expulsion from school. That's why it's essential to seek the guidance of an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney.
Source: Nfwdailynews.com, "Students face charges over school violence threats," Annie Blanks, Oct. 05, 2017