Florida Teens Break into $8 Million Mansion

July 31, 2022 Criminal Defense, Theft/Property Crimes

A “Project-X” level party broke out in a million-dollar mansion in Watercolor, Florida. The party was the result of a break-in and burglary, where over 250 teens swarmed into the empty house and ransacked the place.

Not only did they post proof of themselves drinking, partying, and boxing in the house, but there are also multiple items that were stolen from the house. Now the owners of the home are pushing for arrests to be made. We will cover the details of the case, the dangers of social media in a criminal case, and burglary in Florida.

Burglary Turns into a Wild Party

On June 18th, 2022, police were called to a home in Watercolor, Florida for a noise complaint. By the time they arrived, the house was nearly empty—but pictures and videos circulating on social media show just how wild the party got.

Videos show the unauthorized party, where teens set up a boxing match in one of the house’s foyers, with loud music blasting in the background. There are multiple images of groups of teenagers posing in the house—one image even shows a young man posing with several rings on his finger. Police believe there were an estimated 250 people at the house party, and that they broke in through a backdoor that was pried open.

Aside from throwing a massive party, the teens ransacked the mansion, allegedly stealing luxury items and trying on clothes from the various rooms’ closets and drawers. Some of the stolen items included a signed Peyton Manning football, and a wine bottle worth $1,500. The homeowner also said they needed to change the sheets since all the beds had been “sampled” by the intruders.

The owners of the five-bedroom, eight-bathroom mansion had recently posted their house for sale on Zillow, for an estimated $7,950,000. The family had gone out of town for the weekend, which is why she believes the teens targeted her home.

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office has “identified many of the kids” who invaded the home in June, yet no names have been released. Sheriff spokesperson Corey Dobridnia commented on the home invasion and party, saying that the investigation is still in progress to determine who stole what.

“It could take this family weeks to figure out what’s missing,” Dobridnia said. “It’s going to be difficult for them to know exactly what was taken…If you had a part in it, we would encourage you to come forward and take accountability. The videos are disturbing as well as telling…All these kids wanted to brag that they broke into this house and showed a total lack of respect for anybody but themselves.”

Social Media Proof for Crimes

Social media is a prominent tool for anyone with a smartphone, and it is used across all age groups. However, it is obvious that the younger generation is using social media the most—posting nearly everything they do on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. However, what teens may not realize is that what they post on social media could potentially be used by the prosecution in a criminal case.

Posting threats on social media can now result in a criminal charge, due to a Florida law passed in July 2018. Aside from published threats, posting incriminating photos or videos can absolutely be used against you in a criminal trial. According to Dobridnia, several of the party-goers were identified by parents, school resource officers, or other local sheriff offices. Considering that there are multiple images and videos from inside the house, it would not be difficult for the teens in question to be identified.  

This is just another reminder to be mindful about what is published on social media, as it will likely remain online forever—and could be used against you. To read more about social media being used in court, find our page here.

Responses from the Owner

When questioned about prosecuting the party-goers who entered her home, the owner responded, “All of it. Criminally. Civilly. All of it. Their parents should hold them accountable. If they don’t, we will.”

The owners of the house found out about the party when the police called them late Saturday night to ask if they were aware of a large-scaled party happening in their house. “I was just shocked,” she recalled. “It was a feeling of disgust that these kids would do that. We’ve lived in the community for six years, we raised kids here.”

The neighborhood helped with picking up after the party, which gathered up over 10 bags of trash. The entire community is supposedly feeling the aftermath of the illegal party. “They can replace their stuff, but you cannot replace the peace of mind after kids went into their bathrooms, tried on their clothes,” Dobridnia said. “You can’t put a price on a violation of privacy, and that’s what it is.”

Burglary in Florida

Burglary is defined under Florida Statute Section 810.02 as when an individual enters a structure, dwelling, or conveyance with the intent to commit a crime. Burglary also takes place when an individual enters and remains in a structure to commit a forcible felony, which can include robbery, grand theft, arson, and any other felony involving the threat or use of violence defined under Florida Statute Section 776.08.

Burglary can range from a third-degree felony to a first-degree felony depending on the severity of the offense. A third-degree felony burglary charge is when a person enters or remains in an unoccupied structure without committing assault or battery, and is not armed. The penalty for a third-degree felony charge is up to a $5,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison.

A second-degree felony burglary charge is when a person enters or remains in a dwelling, occupied structure, occupied conveyance, or authorized emergency vehicle, or entered with the intent to commit a theft crime of a controlled substance. The penalty for a second-degree felony charge is up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

A first-degree felony burglary charge is when a person enters a dwelling or structure, and:

  • Is or becomes armed with a dangerous weapon or explosive; or
  • Makes an assault or battery upon any person; or
  • If the dwelling or structure was unoccupied either used a vehicle to gain entrance causing damage or causes more than $1,000 in damages.

The penalty for a first-degree felony charge is up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

Read more about burglary in Florida and its potential defenses on our page here.

Juvenile Offenses

When a teenager gets in trouble with the law, it is typically the Juvenile Justice System that they have to deal with. The system was originally created for rehabilitation rather than punishment for kids, but it can be scary nonetheless.

Getting convicted of a criminal offense as an adolescent can have harsh consequences that include probation, house arrest, affecting the teen’s ability to get into college, placement in a secured facility, or even imprisonment. In the most severe of cases, a teen can be charged as an adult, meaning they could end up in prison.

Whether you are a teen who has been accused of a crime, or the parent of a teen who has gotten in trouble with the law, your best chance of building a strong defense is to work with a skilled defense attorney for juvenile court in your area.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one has been accused of a burglary crime in Florida, your next step should be to reach out to an experienced defense attorney. Getting arrested and charged with a crime is extremely nerve-wracking, and it may feel like you have no options. However, the best way to ensure a strong defense for your case is to work with a skilled attorney. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients all across the state, and will work tirelessly to earn you your freedom. For a free consultation call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today.

Written by Karissa Key

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