Seminole County Sheriffs Arrest Two Students for Trespassing and Disturbing the Peace

May 2, 2024 College, Criminal Defense, News & Announcements

After a trespassing incident led to the lockdown of a Florida high school, law enforcement is working on ways to prevent the unlawful acts of entering school grounds without permission. Although the two defendants were students at a different local school, they have since been arrested and charged with two separate crimes.

This page will provide the case details and relative information pertaining to the case.

Case Details

On April 8, 2024, Lake Mary High School was placed on a lockdown after school officials claimed there was a case of trespassing. According to a local report, two 19-year-old students with Seminole High School arrived in a single vehicle and entered Lake Mary High through the school’s multipurpose room that led into the main hallway.

The two Seminole High students told another student on Lake Mary’s campus that they were there for a “bounty.” The Lake Mary student then reported the trespassing students to school officials. A video from the school’s surveillance system showed the two students entering campus at 11:01am before heading to the main hall before the bell rang for the first lunch.

Since school officials could not find the two Seminole students, they placed Lake Mary on a “Code Red” lockdown. The lockdown lasted for nearly an hour before the pair was located. Although neither student had a weapon on them or expressed the extent of what the “bounty” meant, they were both arrested on charges of trespassing on school grounds and disturbing the peace of a school function.

Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said the students likely used the solar eclipse event to gain access to Lake Mary’s campus.

“An after action meeting was conducted with our School Safety team, as part of our normal procedure, to address this and find ways to mitigate this from occurring in the future,” Sheriff Lemma said.

What is a Bounty?

Despite law enforcement not providing more details as to why two students would claim to enter a school for a “bounty,” it’s worth defining below.

A bounty is considered a payment or reward of some type to locate, capture, or kill a person that is considered wanted. Modern day examples include the U.S. Government’s bounty for Saddam Hussein or Microsoft’s bounty for the creators of computer viruses.

However, in the state of Florida, the only way a fugitive can be recovered is by those who bonded them out. It is also illegal to call yourself a “bounty hunter.”

Under Florida Statute Section 648.30(2), “a person may not represent himself or herself to be a bail enforcement agent, bounty hunter, or other similar title in this state.” Additionally, only a certified law enforcement agent can apprehend, detain, or arrest a principal on a bond, unless otherwise licensed as a bail bond agent or bail bond enforcement agent.

A person who violates this law and acts as a bounty hunter faces a third-degree felony. If convicted, the penalties can carry up to a $5,000 fine and up to five (5) years in prison.

Important: A person alleged to have knowingly aided or abetted an unlicensed person in violating this section can also be charged with a third-degree felony.

Florida Trespassing Penalties

The penalties a defendant can face for trespassing will depend on where the trespassing took place, which is broken down below:

  • Trespassing a structure or conveyance – Florida Statute Section 810.08 explains it is a second-degree misdemeanor for any person not authorized, licensed, or invited to enter or remain in a building, motor vehicle, vessel, or trailer. If a person(s) is present inside the structure or conveyance, the penalties are raised to a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties can be raised once more to a third-degree felony if the defendant was armed with a firearm or dangerous weapon.
  • Trespassing a property other than a structure or conveyance – Florida Statute Section 810.09 explains it is a first-degree misdemeanor for a person to trespass on property other than a structure or conveyance. The penalties can be raised to a third-degree felony if the defendant was armed with a firearm or dangerous weapon, or if the trespassing took place at any of the specified sites listed between Section (2)(d) – (2)(j).
  • Trespassing on school grounds or facilities – Florida Statute Section 810.097 explains that any person who does not have a legitimate reason, license, or invitation to be on a school’s campus, or a student(s) who is currently under suspension or expulsion and who enters or remains on school grounds faces a second-degree misdemeanor. If the person remains on school grounds after a principal or other authorized school personnel has directed such person to leave, the penalties are raised to a first-degree misdemeanor.

What is the Crime of Disturbing Certain Assemblies?

Under Florida Statute Section 871.01, the crime of disturbing schools and religious and other assemblies is defined as below:

“Whoever willfully and maliciously interrupts or disturbs any school or any assembly of people met for the worship of God, any assembly of people met for the purpose of acknowledging the death of an individual, or for any other lawful purpose” can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.

The penalties for disrupting a school or religious assembly are raised to a third-degree felony if during the commission of the unlawful act, the defendant also made a credible threat. Additionally, the penalties will be reclassified if the offense is considered a hate crime.

According to the Florida Bar Criminal Jury Instructions, the State must prove the following elements to convict a person of this crime:

  • The defendant willfully and maliciously interrupted or disturbed:
    • A school;
    • An assembly of people meeting for the worship of God;
    • An assembly of people meeting for the purpose of acknowledging the death of an individual;
    • An assembly of people meeting for any lawful purpose.

Important: The Florida Bar explains that “to commit an offense under [this statute], a person must have deliberately acted to create a disturbance. That is, he [or she] must act with the intention that his behavior impedes the successful functioning of the assembly in which he has intervened, or with reckless disregard of the effect of his behavior. The acts complained of must be such that a reasonable person would expect them to be disruptive.” See S.H.B. v State, 355 So.2d 1176, 1178 (Fla. 1978).

Contact a Florida Trespassing and Disturbance Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges for alleged trespassing or for causing a disruption to a school or religious assembly, consider seeking out a defense lawyer for legal representation. Depending on what you’ve been accused of or the surrounding details of the alleged incident, there may be potential defense strategies available to you to fight against a criminal conviction.

Contact the defense team with Pumphrey Law Firm for information on how to tackle your case. We provide new clients with a free consultation when you call us at (850) 681-7777.

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