Man Arrested for Leaving Dead Animals at Parkland Memorial

September 10, 2022 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements

It is against the law in Florida to deface or destroy a monument or a burial ground. A local Florida man has recently been arrested after leaving dead animals on the memorial ground for the Parkland Massacre victims, which has resulted in his arrest.

We will cover the details of the case, along with explaining the Florida Statute for defacing or destroying a monument.

What was the Incident?

Robert Mondragon, 29, has been arrested and is being held without bail after defacing the Parkland Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School monument on three separate occasions.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office reported that on July 20th, Mondragon placed a duck that was dead and cut open on the bench in the memorial garden of the school. The garden is part of the memorial for the students who were tragically killed in the February 14th, 2018, school shooting.

On the following night, Mondragon returned again, this time leaving a dead raccoon on a bench. Then again on July 31st, Mondragon returned a third time and left a dead opossum.

Mondragon was identified as the suspect, a few days later an officer pulled him over and found animal blood and feathers inside his vehicle. Mondragon’s alleged response to the officer was that he was keeping a dead bird in his car because he “liked the smell.”

On August 5th, Mondragon was arrested for defacing a monument. This is not his first criminal charge—Mondragon was previously convicted of exposing himself to a woman in public, and biting the police officer who responded to the case.

Police have had to confiscate guns from Mondragon under the State’s new Red Flag Law which was adopted after the Parkland massacre. The law allows police to receive a judge’s permission to seize firearms from individuals who appear to be a danger to themselves or to others.

“He fits every classification that it’s coming,” Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said at a press conference. “We’ve been lucky, and luck is not a strategy.” Police found several searches on Mondragon’s computer about old school shootings. They worried that he may have been planning one himself.

Andrew Coffey, Mondragon’s attorney, claimed that his client was the child victim of a crime that is currently awaiting trial, which may have caused lasting trauma. The attorney declined to give specific details on the previous childhood case.

Mondragon is currently being held without bond and is facing three counts of defacing a monument, which is a second-degree felony. Mondragon has also violated probation on an earlier conviction for battery and indecent exposure.

Defacing a Monument in Florida

Florida Statute Section 872.02 defines injuring or removing a tomb or monument and its penalties in the state. The statute explains that it is against the law to willingly and knowingly destroy, mutilate, deface, injure, or remove any monument, tomb, gravestone, or burial mound. This also includes trees, shrubs, or plants that are placed within any such enclosure unless done during routine maintenance and upkeep.

Any violation of the law can result in a third-degree felony in Florida. The consequences of getting convicted of a third-degree felony include up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

Defacing or destroying a monument has just recently been given harsher penalties as per Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Combating Public Disorder Act.” Within the new law is also a more extreme penalty for a monument that has been completely knocked over or destroyed. The new penalty would result in a second-degree felony, with up to a $10,000 fine and up to fifteen years in prison.

Furthermore, the law provides that if any violation occurs during participation in a riot, the offense is automatically bumped up one level. This means that a person could potentially be convicted of a first-degree felony and face up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

You can read more about the Combating Public Disorder Act in our blog post here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, it is in your best interest to seek out the legal advice of a skilled Tallahassee defense attorney in your area. Expensive fines, potential imprisonment, and dealing with the stigma of a criminal record are all outcomes of a guilty conviction. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients across the state for various criminal charges. We vow to stand in your corner and fight for your freedom. For a free consultation call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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