Tallahassee High School Football Game Ends in Panic and Arrest

September 13, 2023 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Violent Crimes

A preseason high school football game in Tallahassee ended early due to violence that broke out, which created even more chaos when police noticed a student with a suspected firearm.

The laws and regulations for minors who commit crimes work differently than those who are charged as adults. This page will provide the case details, as well as information on penalties for juveniles in possession of firearms or other electronic weapons.

Case Details

Deputies with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) arrested an 18-year-old student from Leon High School after an altercation broke out during their preseason game against Rickards High School. LCSO also took another student into custody after spotting a gun in his possession.

According to a local news report, a potentially violent incident occurred that caused widespread panic, “fear[,] and chaos.” Due to the commotion and concerns over safety, school officials were forced to end the game early.

Patrol deputies were called to the campus to help assist with the traffic control since the game abruptly ended. As the patrons of the football game were exiting the stadium, police spotted another student with what appeared to be a firearm in his waistband. The second student was only 15-years-old.

A spokesperson with LCSO later announced that the gun in the minor’s possession was determined to be an Airsoft gun that shoots BBs or pellets (still unlawful in Florida for certain minors).

The 18-year-old who was arrested for the chaotic altercation was taken to Leon County Detention Facility. The 15-year-old was transferred to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

Juvenile Gun Possession

It is unlawful for a minor under the age of eighteen to possess a firearm unless it is unloaded and in the presence of their own home. Exceptions include:

  • Minor engaged in a lawful hunting activity when they are at least 16, or under 16 with adult supervision;
  • Minor engaged in a lawful marksmanship competition or practice or other lawful recreational shooting when they are at least 16, or under 16 with adult supervision acting with the consent of the minor’s parent or guardian.

Florida Statute Section 790.22(5)(a) provides that a minor who is caught in the possession of a firearm can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. For a first-time offense, the juvenile may be required to serve up to five days in a secure detention facility, as well as being required to complete 100 hours of community service. Additional penalties include the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) revoking or withholding issuance of the minor’s driver license for up to one year.

For a second or subsequent offense, the minor can be charged with a third-degree felony. The juvenile will be required to serve up to 21 days (about 3 weeks) in a secured detention center, as well as the requirement to complete between 100 and 250 hours of community service. Additional penalties include the DHSMV revoking or withholding issuance of the minor’s driver license for up to two years.

Section(8) explains that when a minor is charged with the unlawful possession of a firearm or is charged with an offense where they possessed or used a firearm while in the commission of said offense, they are “taken into custody” rather than arrested.

Law enforcement with the Juvenile Detention Center will then provide a risk assessment to determine if the minor can return home pending further proceedings, if they are granted supervised release, or if they must remain held in a secured detention center until their court hearing.

Important: juvenile defendants cannot remain in a secured detention center for more than 24 hours without being granted a hearing.

To find out more about juvenile criminal case procedures and direct filing to charge the juvenile as an adult, refer to our blog post here.

Prohibited Use of Electric Weapons for Minors

Certain juveniles are also prohibited from using electronic weapons or devices.

Florida Statute Section 790.22 explains that any minor who is under the age of sixteen is prohibited from using a BB gun, air or gas-operated guns, or electronic weapons or devices. The only exception is if the minor under 16 is accompanied and supervised by an adult acting with the consent of the minor’s parent or guardian.

Section(2) provides that when a minor under 16 is caught with a BB gun or other electronic weapons in their possession, the parent or adult responsible for the minor can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. In Florida, a conviction for a second-degree misdemeanor carries the following penalties:

  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Up to 60 days in jail.

Potential Penalties for Parents in Juvenile Criminal Cases

Since minors are still under the care of their parents or guardians, they may also face criminal prosecution for the possession of a firearm.

Section(4)(a) states that any parent or guardian, or other adult responsible for the welfare of the minor caught in the possession of a firearm can be charged with a third-degree felony. However, for police to charge the adult with this crime, it specifies that they must have known and willingly permitted the minor to possess such firearm. A conviction for a third-degree felony carries the following penalties:

  • Up to $5,000 in fines
  • Up to five years in prison

In some cases, the court may order the parent or guardian to participate in classes on parenting education that has been approved by the Department of Juvenile Justice when it is the minor’s first conviction. If the minor is convicted of a second or subsequent conviction, then the court may require the parent or guardian to attend further parent education classes or complete community service hours with the minor.

Tallahassee Online Police Statistics (TOPS) Map

The example case above was listed on the Tallahassee Online Police Statistics (TOPS) Map. The interactive map is operated by the Tallahassee Police Department and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. The map provides live updates of public safety information based on calls received through the Consolidated Dispatch Center.

You can view the live updates on the Map here.

Consult a Tallahassee Juvenile Defense Attorney

Since juvenile cases work differently than adult criminal cases, it is imperative that you familiarize yourself with the specific laws and penalties if you or a loved one are facing prosecution for an alleged offense. While unlawful gun possession carries steep penalties already for a minor, it can also impact their parent or guardian.

Criminal representation for minors is extremely important in Florida, where juvenile cases can be transferred to adult court instead. If you are a minor who has been accused of a crime, or the parent of a minor accused of a crime, consider hiring a juvenile defense attorney to represent your case. The team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients of all ages and walks of life. We will provide you with continuous support while trying to fight the charges against you. You can receive a free consultation regarding your case when you call (850) 681-7777 or leave us a message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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