Articles Posted in Juveniles

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Two 12-year-olds have been charged with cyberstalking in connection with the death of a middle school student in Panama City Beach, who committed suicide two weeks ago.

The arrests came as the result of an investigation by Panama City Beach Police into the mitigating circumstances around her death on Jan. 10. According to a news release, PCBPD was made aware of potential cyberbullying against the child, which led them to examine several cell phones and social media accounts.

Through that investigation, PCBPD developed two 12-year-old suspects, who were then interviewed and allegedly confessed to engaging in cyberbullying conduct.

A male and female were charged.

PCBPD said in a statement that their investigation did not reveal that cyberbullying was the sole cause of the girl’s death, just that it was occurring at the time of her death. An official ruling on her cause of death has not yet been released by the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Cybercrimes can be difficult to understand, and if you’re a parent and have a child facing criminal charges, you are probably concerned about what to do to be proactive in your child’s defense. A conviction could change your child’s life forever. If your child has been arrested or is under suspicion for cyberstalking or cyberbullying, don’t hesitate to contact our Florida Juvenile Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton. We will work to protect your child’s future and freedom.

Cyberbullying involves communications via the internet , through text messages or any other electronic communications. These crimes have drastically increased with modern technologies becoming more common, including emails, texts, blogs, and social media profiles, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

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Two teenage girls were charged after deputies said they stole packages from the front porch of a home in Riverview.

The alleged incident occurred on Dec. 19 around 6:15 p.m. at a home on Palmetto Pine Street.

The two teens are accused of entering into the neighborhood on a golf cart and stole a FedEx package containing an Apple TV streaming router–valued at $140–and two UPS packages with a t-shirt–valued at $9.88–and hand balm–valued at $12.77–from the front porch of the home.

The suspects are a 13 and 14-year-old girl. They were charged with petit theft and were entered into the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program based upon no prior criminal history.

Tis the season for seeing an increase in thefts, specifically, packages stolen from homes. Childhood is a time of learning rules and juveniles don’t always stop to think before they act. The number of ways a child can get into trouble are truly unlimited. Simple mistakes can easily turn into a criminal arrest, and the consequences can be serious. The juvenile court system focuses on rehabilitation and education of minors who have deliberately or mistakenly committed a crime.

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A Mandarin High School student and an 18-year-old Northside charter school student were allegedly caught Friday with guns on their respective campuses, according to police.

The 18-year-old was arrested Friday with a loaded gun in his book bag at Biscayne High Charter School on the Northside, police said. The gun had 14 rounds in it, according to a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrest report.

He is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 30.

Across town, a 17-year-old apparently had a loaded .380 handgun at Mandarin High and was also charged with possession of marijuana, according to reports.

There were five rounds in the gun.

No students or staff were hurt.

There have been three gun-in-school arrests in Duval County this school year. During the 2016-17 school year, there were 17 arrests in incidents that resulted in 11 guns, a Taser and a starter pistol being confiscated.

Gun violence is certainly an ongoing issue, and something high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools have to deal with on a regular basis. Because of this, Florida laws have cracked down on individuals, including juveniles, who bring weapons onto school property.

Below are a list of weapons that are banned from being brought on school property:

  • Firearms
  • Shotguns
  • Rifles
  • Knives
  • Cutting tools
  • Nunchuck sticks
  • Any other tool, instrument or implement that can inflict serious bodily injury

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Florida authorities said three teenagers – one 14-year-old and two 16-year-olds – stole a sport utility vehicle, sped away from officers and died in a fiery, violent crash early Sunday morning.

The 4:30 a.m. crash happened in Pinellas County.

A fourth teen in the SUV, who is 14, survived and is hospitalized.

All the teens all had criminal histories – including one who had gotten out of jail on July 31.

Reports indicate that a Ford Explorer and a Chrysler Sebring were stolen from a Clearwater car dealership Thursday. Both vehicles were spotted by deputies early Sunday morning. Deputies tried to apprehend the drivers of the cars, but didn’t pursue them. The sheriff’s office’s pursuit policy generally does not allow deputies to chase stolen cars.

Deputies believed the teens were using the stolen cars to commit burglaries. At one point, they set up a perimeter to try to catch the teens, but a deputy spotted the vehicles outside of the perimeter.

According to reports, the cars were in a “cat and mouse” game with each other, accelerating and slowing down, hitting speeds of 100 mph or more.

The deputy that spotted them did not initiate a high-speed chase, but the Explorer continued at about 100 mph when it hit another vehicle, caught fire and went airborne. The Explorer also hit a billboard pole.

The driver hit by the Explorer suffered minor injuries, reports indicate.

Officers found the Chrysler Sebring and arrested the two in that car; one is 16 and the other 18.

The teens involved were being monitored under a program for repeat offenders.

In 2015, police in Pinellas made 499 felony arrests for juvenile auto theft, more than any other county in Florida going back eight years, and more than the most populous counties in America, including Los Angeles. The Tampa Bay Times did an investigation into teen car thefts in April of 2017; the paper found that every four days, a teen crashes a stolen car in Pinellas County. It also found that in nearly every other county in Florida, most people arrested for auto theft are adults. But in Pinellas County, 62 percent are younger than 18 – the largest rate of juveniles arrested for grand theft auto of any sizable Florida county for at least a decade.

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Nearly 300 people attended a meeting Monday held by a Lake Placid principal to discuss the dangers of sexting among minors.

According to reports, the principal found one cell phone with a pornographic video on it, and that one video then turned into a “video that was passed among other students and shared with other students and social media was used to bully that student.”  

The investigation has now allegedly identified 20 middle school girls that sent nude pictures of themselves to other male students.  

The principal believes peer pressure forced the girls to send the pictures and video.

The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case for possible charges for child pornography or sexual exploitation of a minor.

The case was forwarded to the department’s Special Victim’s Unit because of the graphic nature of the images and video found on multiple Lake Placid Middle School student cell phones.

Police claim there were nude pictures of children between the ages of 12 and 14.

In addition to nude selfie pictures, police said they uncovered an extremely graphic video of a student masturbating.  

That video is why the department is looking into the possibility that any students were the victims of sexual exploitation and/or child pornography.  

The initial investigation started on Feb. 10 when a student allegedly showed naked pictures they received on their phone to a teacher. The teacher then took the phone to a school resource officer with the sheriff’s department.  

With the rise of cell phone use, especially among teenagers, the practice of “sexting”—sending nude or sexually suggestive photos by text message—has become alarmingly common. When it comes to sexting, in Florida, the first offense carries a sentence of community service or a fine.  If a student is convicted of sexting three times, it is then escalated to a felony.

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A high school student who is accused of going through his teacher’s cell phone, finding a nude picture of her and posting it online has been charged with a computer crime and voyeurism.

According to authorities, the student, who is being charged as a juvenile, was taken into custody at Union High School in South Carolina without incident.

The 16-year-old is charged with a count of violating the state’s computer crime act in the second degree and a count of aggravated voyeurism.

He is being held in juvenile detention for a hearing in family court.

Officials said it is not clear how many people may have seen the social media postings of the photo.

The teacher, 33, has quit her job teaching mechanical and electrical engineering and computer programming at the school’s vocational center.

She told police that on Feb. 18 she stepped out of her classroom, which is when a boy took her unlocked smartphone from her desk, opened the photos application and found a nude selfie she had taken for her husband as a Valentine’s Day present.

According to reports, the superintendent said it was the teacher’s fault for leaving students unattended during a four-minute break between classes.

The voyeurism charge makes it illegal, for the purpose of sexual gratification, to record or make a digital file of another person without his or her consent. The computer crimes charge makes it illegal to take possession or deprive the owner of a computer of computer data.

Both charges are misdemeanors for a first offense.

Your child may face various negative consequence if they are arrested or charged with  a juvenile offense. Being detained in a juvenile detention center or in jail is a very real possibility if convicted. In certain scenarios, your child may be removed from the home, either temporarily or permanently. With the help of our Florida Juvenile Crime Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton, we might be able to encourage the judge to allow for leniency, including probation or possibly just a warning rather than subjecting a minor to a criminal record.

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A 17-year-old student is accused of luring an 11-year-old boy out of in-school suspension at Pinellas Secondary School, an alternative school for grades six through 12, and attempting to rape the boy.

The 17-year-old apparently told the 11-year-old they were going to go to McDonald’s, but instead they wound up behind abandoned buildings and into a wooded area, where the 17-year-old, 255-pound, 6-foot-1 high school sophomore allegedly hugged the 73-pound sixth-grader and told him they were going to have sex.

According to police, the 11-year-old boy escaped by faking an asthma attack and asked the 17-year-old to let him call his mother from a nearby business.

Reports indicate that the 17-year-old teen has had similar run-ins with the law previously.

Last week, police arrested the 17-year-old teen and charged him with lewd and lascivious conduct on a minor and interference with custody for removing the 11-year-old from school. He is currently in custody at the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

When an individual is under the age of 18 and is accused of a crime, he or she usually ends up in juvenile court. A record of conviction in Florida juvenile court can follow the juvenile into adulthood and lead to serious problems. Our Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton fight aggressively to protect children and teens from unnecessary punishments that will haunt them well into adulthood.

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A Plant High School student has been arrested after he was allegedly found in his car with weapons while the school was on lockdown Wednesday morning.

Tampa Police charged the 18-year-old student with two counts of possession of a firearm on school property.

According to a report, the school, initiated a “modified” lockdown due to a phone call communicating a vague threat. During a search of the school’s perimeter by officers and school security, the teen was allegedly found in his car with weapons.

A Hillsborough Schools spokesperson said the teen is an avid hunter, and the alleged weapons were unrelated to the earlier phone threat to the school.

The lockdown lasted a little more than an hour. The school was not evacuated.

With school violence such a hot button issue and deadly shootings occurring even in elementary schools, school districts and Florida law have cracked down on individuals, including juveniles, who bring weapons onto school property.

Weapons prohibited from being brought on school property include:

  • Firearms
  • Shotguns
  • Rifles
  • Knives
  • Cutting tools
  • Nunchuck sticks
  • Any other tool, instrument or implement that can inflict serious bodily injury

If your child has been charged with possessing a firearm on school property, you will need to enlist the help of an experienced Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton very quickly. As with all criminal charges, you should not talk to the police or prosecutors without your attorney present. Anything you say can be taken out of context and used against you. If the police question you, politely request your lawyer and refrain from answering their questions.

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Thanksgiving is a time of year when families get together to celebrate memories and honor traditions. However, this is also the time of year when law enforcement agencies gear up to catch drunk drivers on our roadways.

Most law enforcement agencies, receive federal grants to increase their staffing levels during the holiday season, which typically begins with the four-day Thanksgiving weekend and continues to New Year’s Day. Arrests for DUI are highest during this time period.

The following are a few tips that may prove helpful to avoid a Thanksgiving DUI:

  1. Do not drink and drive. If you have been drinking, call a cab, a friend or use a ride share app like Uber or Lyft to get home safe. If you know you will be drinking, designate a sober driver to take you home.
  2. If you are pulled over, do not talk to law enforcement about where you were or what you were doing. Remember, you have the right to remain silent until you have your lawyer present.
  3. If you are involved in an accident, stop immediately and remain at the scene. Do not admit to anything and request to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.
  4. Do not fall asleep inside your vehicle. You could get arrested if the officer observes that you have the keys in the ignition or if the engine is running.
  5. Drive cautiously. Police will be closely monitoring motorists for any mistakes they make. In particular, they will be on the lookout for motorists who may be driving too fast or too slow, or running red lights or failing to stop at stop signs.

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A 17-year-old Leesburg teen, who was expelled from Tavares High School for allegedly inappropriately touching female students, was arrested Friday for doing the same thing, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

The teen was charged with two counts of simple battery and trespassing. He remained in the Lake County jail Monday in lieu of $15,000 bail.

According to an arrest affidavit, the teen was a student at Tavares High, but was previously expelled for inappropriately touching female students. He was also trespassed from the facility.

He is accused of returning to the school on Friday at 7:15 a.m. where he allegedly hugged random girls.

“Statements were provided that he was asking the victims for ‘hugs,’ then he would grab their butts, and run his face in their breast area and try to kiss them …,” according to the affidavit.

The teen was arrested at 8:30 a.m.

He is scheduled for a court arraignment on Feb. 25.

Having a criminal conviction at a young age can negatively affect your child’s life for many years to come. Not only could they be facing jail time, but he or she could be denied college acceptances, driving privileges, jobs, student loans and other types of financial aid. A criminal conviction could even lead to your child getting suspended or expelled from school.

Juvenile Court is quite different from the adult legal system, but you need a Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer to help guide you through the system. There are things you need to know, like when your child will be released to you, the potential punishments and how the charge could impact the rest of your child’s life.

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