These days, the law and an increasing number of people are less forgiving of bad behavior from children, especially behaviors that objectively carry the criminal tag. If it says anything, it is that the responsibility and liability bore by the young in our society for their behavior is getting heavier.
Chain of Events
A small group of 12 year olds learned this the hard away after a “prank” led to their arrests and subsequent arraignment for first-degree felonies. It all started when one of the girls poured glue into the backpack of a classmate. The teacher found out and disciplined the girl accordingly. This did not go down well with the girl who upset by the teacher’s discipline, embarked on a retaliatory mission. She enlisted the help of two of her friends who distracted the teacher while she spiced the soda can of the teacher with red pepper flakes. When the teacher drank from the can, she found herself coughing and sputtering. Furthermore, the teacher emphasized that she “choked,” had “shortness of breath,” experienced “stomach pains,” and had an “agitated, sore throat.” Consequently, the teacher opted to press charges against the girls involved.
Related Florida Laws
Under Florida Laws, the action by the three girls violated the legislation on poisoning food or water and anti-tampering act (that criminalizes the tampering of consumer products). Furthermore, according to Florida Law, both crimes are first-degree felonies.
Poisoning of Food or Water
The crime of poisoning food or water involves introducing, adding, or combining any chemical substance, bacterium, virus, or poison into medicine, food, drink, or other consumable product to be taken by a person or group of persons with the intent to kill or injure the victim. Among the keywords to note is ‘intent.’ Certainly, the aim of the girls was not to kill the teacher: However, they had the intent to injure her. Which by the way was successful as the statute does not indicate the minimum level or threshold of injury that must result from the poisoning. Therefore, based on intent to injure and the introduction of a chemical substance to the soda can of the teacher, the action of the seventh graders triggers this felony.
The Florida Anti-Tampering Act prohibits actions including interference of any consumer product—food, cosmetic, drug, or device—consumed or used by a person and leads to bodily injury of the victim. As in the poisoning of food or water legislation, the anti-tampering act makes no mention that the injury resulting from the tampering be significant or permanent. Rather, bodily injury as indicated in the statute refers to a cut, burn, abrasion, illness, physical pain, impairment of bodily or mental function or any other injury sustained by the body. Accordingly, the interference of the soda can of the teacher and the injury that results from the interference by the seventh graders triggers this felony.
Will A Conviction Occur?
It is unlikely that a conviction would occur for two core reasons: Age, and the fact that the “poison” was red pepper flakes, which is a household cooking ingredient that is neither poisonous nor toxic. Both reasons do not entirely rule out a conviction either. Rather, they may be grounds for clemency, which would lead to the kids receiving a lesser sentence.
Experienced, Top-notch Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
While being young no longer automatically provides a complete accountability blanket, age and maturity do play into the prosecution of bad behavior by children and young adults. Nevertheless, if your child is charged for a crime, the effectiveness of an experienced, top-notch criminal defense attorney providing guidance to you and your child through the proceedings as well as advocating on behalf of your child cannot be overstated. Take advantage of our exclusive free and confidential consultation offer in Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas. Contact Broward criminal lawyer, Kenneth Padowitz, to discuss this important matter.