A 17-year-old expelled Tampa student was arrested after police allegedly found the boy in possession of bomb-making materials and a diary with step by step instructions detailing how to carry out a bomb plot supposedly planned for the first day of classes.
The boy was arrested and charged with threatening to throw, project, place or discharge a destructive device.
Police allegedly received a tip about the boy’s supposed plot on the morning of Aug. 16.
Authorities searched the boy’s home and apparently found shrapnel, plastic tubing and timing and fusing devices. A diary was captured by police that allegedly included targeted administrators, drawings of the high school and statements about killing.
According to the Tampa Police Department’s Regional Bomb Team, the amount of materials found in the boy’s home had the potential to have multiple casualties.
Police believe the boy was acting alone.
The boy could face additional charges of possession of bomb-making materials as well as cultivation of marijuana after police supposedly uncovered plants, drug paraphernalia and marijuana in the boy’s room.
According to TBO.com, the boy was recently arrested for burglary with a stolen firearm.
The juvenile was expelled from the high school in Spring 2010 for an unknown off-campus incident. The youth was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center. It is not yet known whether or not the State Attorney’s Office will charge him as an adult.
With such serious alleged claims found in the young man’s diary, it will be interesting to see what route the prosecution decides to take. Given the boy’s age in combination with the seriousness of the allegations, he appears to have a high chance of being subject to adult court.
After a petition is filed, a judge must decide whether a minor is tried under the juvenile court system or pushed through to the adult criminal justice system. There are many aspects a judge considers before making the decision to transfer a juvenile to adult court, including the youth’s previous criminal record, whether the alleged offense was violent or carried out with intent, the seriousness of the crime in combination with the community’s safety, whether or not any victims were physically injured, the maturity of the juvenile and finally, if the juvenile would be better rehabilitated through the juvenile system or through the resources available in adult court. The juvenile justice system’s main focus is on rehabilitating a minor accused of a criminal offense and is partly based on the adult criminal justice system. The adult court system is intended simply to seek justice for the victim and punish the offender.
In serious cases, such as crimes of violence where a weapon was used, prosecutors will most likely attempt to waive up a youthful offender to adult court which will expose the minor to adult treatment and penalties. In Florida, a person that threatens to throw, project, place or discharge a destructive device, such as a bomb will be charged with a second-degree felony. The punishment for a felony of this caliber could result in up to 15 years in prison.
It is important to remember that a juvenile offender has the same rights as an adult accused of a crime. The right to remain silent, the right to legal counsel and the right to cross-examine witnesses are included in these legal rights. The educated Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can best direct you on how to fight for your child to remain in the juvenile court system.
If your son or daughter has been accused of a crime in Tampa or anywhere in the state of Florida, contact the Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton, LLC online or reach our Hillsborough County office at 813-221-3200 or dial us toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).