Tallahassee Teacher Arrested for Student Fight Club

April 17, 2023 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Violent Crimes

As a parent or guardian, you have a responsibility to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the minors in your care. However, what happens when your actions or behavior lead a minor down a path of delinquency?

In Florida, contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a serious offense that carries criminal consequences. This offense involves any action or behavior that encourages or facilitates a minor’s engagement in illegal or immoral activities. Whether it’s providing drugs or alcohol to a minor, encouraging them to commit a crime, or failing to provide necessary care and supervision, contributing to the delinquency of a minor is an offense that should be taken seriously.

This page will provide details from a recent Florida case, along with relative information pertaining to charges of contributing to the delinquency or dependency of a child.

What was the Incident?

Tallahassee teacher Angel Footman, 23, has been arrested for holding organized fights in her middle school classroom. According to the report, a school resource deputy with Griffin Middle School received an alert on March 24th, 2023 about students fighting in Footman’s room.

Several sixth-graders reported to deputies that they all participated in the fights inside Footman’s room during school hours. The girls claimed they were told by Footman, “30 seconds, no screaming, no yelling, no phones,” and that they were invited back for additional fights.

Students also showed school administrators videos of several fights which took place between March 22nd and March 23rd. Law enforcement officers were shown footage of Footman making comments such as “stop pulling hair.” There were no indications of Footman contacting administrators to report the fights.

When police questioned Footman about the alleged “fight club,” she claimed to have never organized the fights, but did admit to never taking action to report or stop the students’ violence.

Footman is now facing four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

In Florida, contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a criminal offense that involves encouraging or helping a minor engage in behavior that is illegal or immoral. Florida Statute Section 827.04 defines the offense as when any person:

  • Commits an act that causes, encourages, or contributes to a child becoming a delinquent or dependent child in need of services; or
  • Induces or endeavors to induce by an act, threat, command, or persuasion, a child to commit or perform any act, follow any course of conduct, or live in a manner that causes or causes the child to become or remain a dependent or delinquent child in need of services.

Some examples of conduct that could result in a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor include:

  • Providing alcohol or drugs to a minor;
  • Engaging in sexual activity with a minor;
  • Encouraging a minor to commit a crime; or
  • Failing to provide a minor with necessary medical care, food, or supervision.

Under Florida law, contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. However, if the conduct involves serious criminal activity or places the minor at risk of harm, the offense can be elevated to a felony, which carries more severe penalties.

It’s important to note that the specific elements of the offense and the potential penalties can vary depending on the circumstances of each case, so if you or someone you know is facing charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Florida, it’s essential to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help protect your rights and provide you with guidance throughout the legal process.

Furthermore, Florida does not require that the minor be found guilty of the encouraged behavior. This means that even if no charges are brought against the child, a person could still be found guilty of contributing to their delinquency. Florida courts have also interpreted this statute to apply to acts of omission as well as acts of commission. This means that even if the person did not take a hand in the minor’s action, by failing to prevent their behavior the defendant could still be found guilty.

Finally, knowledge is found to mean that there was a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the acts would or could cause or encourage delinquency. This means that just because the defendant’s actions could have caused the minor to engage in delinquent behavior does not mean that they surely would have. The law requires a showing that the risk of such delinquency happening is so likely to happen that a reasonable law-abiding person would not let it occur.

Defenses to a CDM Charge in Florida

After getting charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the parent or guardian may feel as if they have failed and have no options to prevent a conviction. However, each case varies on a case-to-case basis, just with the possible defenses which can be applied to a criminal case. The following are some possible defenses that may be used in a contributing to delinquency case:

  • Lack of Knowledge – This defense can be used when the defendant and defense attorney are able to demonstrate that the defendant had a reasonable belief that their actions were lawful or that they did not have knowledge of the circumstances that made their conduct unlawful.
  • Lack of Causation – This defense argues that the defendant’s actions did not cause the harm which was alleged in the case. Even if the defendant engaged in conduct that may have contributed to the delinquency of a minor, they cannot be held accountable for the minor’s actions if their conduct did not directly cause the delinquent behavior or a reasonable law-abiding person in a similar situation would have acted the same way.
  • Entrapment – This defense argues that the defendant only committed the offense as the result of being induced or persuaded by law enforcement. The defendant must be able to prove that they were coerced, pressured, or tricked into committing the offense.

If you’re facing charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, it is imperative that you speak with a skilled defense attorney to determine which defenses apply to your case. Even if there is video evidence of the alleged delinquency, having an understanding of the law can be imperative in knowing whether an actual violation occurred.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one are facing charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Florida, it’s essential to understand the serious consequences that can result from a conviction. A criminal conviction can have a lasting impact on your personal and professional life, and it’s important to have an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney on your side to protect your rights and provide you with a strong defense.

With the right representation from Pumphrey Law Firm, you may be able to negotiate reduced charges, secure a plea deal, or even have your charges dismissed completely. Don Pumphrey and his team of attorneys vow to stand in your corner and fight for your freedom. Don’t take chances with your future—call us today for a free consultation regarding your case at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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