Mother Arrested for Threatening Daughter’s Classmate Over TikTok

May 2, 2024 Criminal Defense, Social Media

Despite the recent legal changes over minors’ use of social media, young children are still able to use sites like TikTok until the law goes into effect later this year. One of the consequences of this is potential crimes being committed against children online. In one recent case out of Florida, the parent of a middle schooler has been arrested after making threatening messages over TikTok.

This page will provide the case details along with information on electronic threats and whether it could be considered an example of child abuse.

Case Details

The mother of a Florida middle schooler has been arrested for allegations of threatening a minor online. According to a local report, police were alerted when an 11-year-old student at Okeechobee Middle School received threatening messages over TikTok.

After deputies met with the sixth-grade victim’s parents, they were informed that the messages came from the 28-year-old mom of another student who “had issues” with their daughter. Despite claiming the two students’ problems were resolved in school, the victim’s mother noticed her daughter began receiving messages from two separate usernames.

Beginning on January 20, 2024, the victim received messages such as the following:

“Wake up lil girl if u want problems u got them f*** you and your momma and u got a dad so yeah b**** f*** with (my daughter) one more time and I promise u your mom and anybody that wants to get they a** whooped let me know because I’ll go to ur house don’t play with her…

Watch ur lil mouth is getting beat u better call ur mom because u got serious problems coming ur way dumb a** let’s [see] who’s kid u f*** with.”

The report indicated there were allegedly over two dozen messages sent to the 11-year-old’s TikTok account. One message included threats to show up at the victim’s house and “run up if u bout it.”

On March 26, criminal investigators received information from TikTok that verified the two usernames sending the messages were traced back to the other student’s parents. The mother has since been charged with written threats to kill or do bodily injury and transferred to Palm Beach County Jail.

Written Threats to do Bodily Harm

Florida Statute Section 836.10 defines an “electronic record” as any record that is created, modified, archived, received, or distributed electronically which contains any combination of text, graphics, video, audio, or pictorial represented in digital form, except for a telephone call.

A person faces a second-degree felony for sending, posting, transmitting, or procuring the sending of a written or electronic record that threatens to do either of the following:

  • Kill or do bodily harm to another person; or
  • Conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism.

Important: Written threats to kill or do bodily harm is ranked as a Level 6 offense. That means the judge can choose to sentence a convicted person to probation or the statutory maximum of fifteen years in prison. While this offense does not have enhanced penalties for a minor victim, this detail will be considered by both the State and judge during trial for sentencing.

Is Threatening a Minor Online Considered Child Abuse?

Potentially. The state of Florida has broad definitions for child abuse. According to the Florida Bar, any willful or threatened act that causes harm or is likely to harm a child in the following ways in considered child abuse:

  • Physical abuse;
  • Neglect;
  • Sexual abuse;
  • Sexual exploitation;
  • Abandonment; or
  • Emotional/mental injury.

Alleged acts of child abuse can take place in a single incident or over multiple acts, so long as it was inflicted by “non-accidental means.”

The Florida Bar highlights several examples of child abuse warnings:

  • Physical warnings like burns, bites, bruises;
  • Emotional warnings like extreme behavior, delayed physical or emotional development, or attempted suicide;
  • Sexual warnings like reports of nightmares or bedwetting, sudden changes in appetite, or refusal to change in front of others; or
  • Signs of neglect like frequent absences from school, lack of medical or dental care, severe body odor, or frequently staying home alone.

Essentially, the state would need evidence of child abuse or neglect to also issue a criminal charge for such. You can find out more about child abuse charges on our page here.  

Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

Crimes with alleged child victims are likely to be prosecuted to the full extent in Florida. Whether you have been accused of child abuse, child neglect, or threatening to conduct harm against a child, you should prioritize finding legal representation for your case. While these can be complex cases to handle, a defense attorney with Pumphrey Law Firm can review your case details and determine if there are any potential defense strategies to fight against a criminal conviction.

Contact our office today at (850) 681-7777 to receive a free consultation regarding your case.

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