Possession of Firearms in Leon County Schools – Deadly Trend on the Rise?

April 21, 2022 Criminal Defense, Juvenile Offenses

Florida is known for its leniency when it comes to owning a gun. However, one charge they take very seriously is possessing a gun on a school campus. Gun violence is a serious issue, and it is important to educate both parents and students on the potential outcome of having one on campus.

In Leon County, there have recently been surging cases of students bringing guns onto campus. In fact, cases have more than doubled from the previous school year. It is unclear as to why more students bringing weapons to school, however there have been several cases of social media influencing teens to commit crimes, which you can read about here.  It is important to fully understand the Florida law and penalties when it comes to getting caught with a gun on a school campus.

The following will cover the details of the Florida law against bringing a gun onto campus, its potential penalties, incidents in Leon County from the 2021-2022 school year, along with the most recent case of such an incident.

Possession of Firearms on School Grounds in Florida

Under Florida Statute 790.115 prohibits individuals from possessing certain weapons nearby or on school grounds. Florida law declares that it is a third-degree felony for an alleged offender to exhibit any signs of rude, careless, angry, or threatening behavior in front of one or more persons on school premises, a school-sponsored event, a school bus stop, or within 1,000 feet of the school property. This includes public or private elementary, middle, or secondary schools during school hours or extracurricular school activities. The following is a list of prohibited weapons on or nearby school campuses:

  • Firearm
  • Sword
  • Sword cane
  • Firearm
  • Electric weapon
  • Electric device
  • Destructive device
  • Dirk
  • Knife
  • Metallic knuckles
  • Slingshot
  • Billie
  • Tear gas gun
  • Chemical device or weapon
  • Any other deadly weapon

If an individual is caught with a firearm or other weapon in their possession on school grounds, it can result in a third-degree felony. This is punishable with a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison. In addition, an parent or guardian who stores or leaves a loaded firearm within the reach or easy access of a minor can also be charged with a crime. It is considered a second-degree felony, which is punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison.

To read more about possession of a firearm and other weapons on a school campus, you can read our blog here.

Leon County Weapon Incidents in the 2021-2022 School Year

According to Chris Petley, spokesperson for the Leon County School District, there were at least nine students who have been charged with bringing a weapon onto campus in the 2021-2022 school year. This is a huge jump from the previous school year, which only had two incidents of a gun on school grounds.

The following is a list of the 2021-2022 incidents at Leon County Schools involving weapons:

  • August 17th, 2021 – According to Leon County Sheriff’s Office, a 17-year-old student at Ghazvini Learning Center was found with a loaded Glock 43 gun in his backpack. The student claimed that the gun was brought for his own protection. The student was charged with possession of a weapon on school property, as well as unlawful possession of a firearm by a minor.
  • August 19th, 2021 – A 17-year-old student at Godby High School was charged with bringing a loaded handgun onto school grounds. The student was hiding the gun under two layers of shorts underneath his pants. The student was picked up from campus due to several warrants, and the gun was found after he was searched at the juvenile detention facility. The student was charged with possession of a weapon on school property, possession of a firearm by a minor, and smuggling contraband into a detention facility. The initial warrant was for possession of a firearm by a minor, drug paraphernalia, and resisting arrest.
  • September 21st, 2021 – Two students were found with guns in their possession after the dean of discipline at Leon County Adult and Community Education School received an anonymous tip. One of the students was 18-years-old, and the other was 17-years old. One of the guns was a Glock 19 handgun, and the other was a Glock 23 pistol. Both guns were seized and the students were transported to the Juvenile Detention Center after being charged with possession of a firearm on school property. One of the students said he was in a gang and was carrying around the gun for his own safety.
  • September 27th, 2021 – A young student at Griffin Middle School was detained after being caught with the possession of a firearm. The school did not disclose whether the gun was loaded or not, but the student was transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center.
  • September 29th, 2021 – A minor attending Godby High School was arrested for possessing a gun on campus. This was only one day after the Leon County law enforcement begged parents to lock up their guns and keep them out of their children’s reach. The school administration was provided with a tip that the student had a weapon, and police confiscated a loaded 9 mm Taurus handgun in their car. The student was a minor, and was taken to the Juvenile Detention Center and was expelled from school.
  • October 7th, 2021 – A minor attending Fairview Middle School was arrested with the charge of bringing a weapon to school when authorities found a stun gun in the student’s possession.
  • December 9th, 2021 – Two 17-year-olds were arrested after trespassing onto Godby High School’s campus. They were students from another Leon County school. After the two minors were caught sneaking onto school grounds, deputies found an unloaded .380 pistol with an altered serial number. It was later found out that the car they drove onto campus was also stolen. The two minors were charged with possession of a firearm on school grounds, grand theft auto, possession of a firearm with an altered serial number, firearm violation of parole, and trespassing onto school property.

Most Recent Case

In the most recent case of carrying a weapon on school grounds, a 16-year-old student was arrested on March 29th, 2022 at Lincoln High School. According to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, the student was charged with possessing a handgun-style pellet gun inside of his vehicle.

It was reported that the student was seen holding the fun in the nearby Tom Brown Park during lunch, around 11:30 am. Leon County currently allows students to leave the school campus during the lunch period, which is why this student had walked into the park.

After someone witnessed the student with the gun, the school resource deputy was informed. Once the student returned to school grounds, the deputy questioned the gun’s whereabouts. The student admitted that he had a handgun-style pellet gun inside of his car in the campus parking lot.

The school acted quickly, confiscating the gun from inside the student’s car. Lincoln High School did not have to go into lockdown since the gun was seized so quickly. The 16-year-old was arrested and charged with possession of a weapon on school property and was transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center. This was at least the 10th case of a student bringing some type of weapon onto campus in the 2021-2022 school year.

In the report published by Leon County Sheriff’s Office, they highlighted the importance of talking about the potential consequences their children can face by bringing a firearm or other weapon onto school property. They also mentioned the “See Something, Say Something” initiative for students to report any suspicious behavior. There is now the FortifyFL app that allows students to anonymously report any suspicious activity on Leon County School grounds.

Finding a Possession of Firearm on School Grounds Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Getting caught with a gun can carry serious consequences. To obtain a gun you need to be of age and carry a permit. A minor caught with a gun would automatically face charges due to their age. The penalties are much more severe if a student decides to bring a gun onto their school grounds. Even if the student had no intention of using the gun, having it on school grounds is a crime. The reality is that you can get in serious trouble if you get caught with a gun at your school.

If you are a student who has been accused of carrying a gun to school, or if you are the parent of a student who has gotten in trouble for bringing a weapon to school, it is extremely important to seek out the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients of all ages across the state of Florida. They understand the importance of working on the best possible defense to your case. Don’t let one mistake hold you or your child back from their future. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today and receive a free consultation regarding your case

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