Water Gun Prank Leads to Arrest in FL

April 22, 2022 Criminal Defense, Juvenile Offenses

Sometimes attempting to pull a prank doesn’t work in your favor. Teens and young adults may act without fully considering the consequences of their actions. For one young man, going onto a high school campus may have seemed harmless in theory, but ended up receiving several criminal charges. Since the individual was already 18-years-old, he will be tried as an adult.

So what was the case? We will cover its details, as well as the specific charges that he received from the incident.

What was the Incident?

On February 4th, 2022, an 18-year-old named Harper Cotton trespassed onto Lawton Chiles High School in Leon County. Harper was not a student at the high school, but had entered the school campus to use his water splatter gun.

One of the school’s Resource Deputies received a tip that there was an individual driving around the school’s campus and shooting a splatter gun at parked vehicles as well as students. According to the report, one student got hit in the arm, and the other got grazed on their face.

Harper was reported being seen both on and off campus. A splatter gun is a fast-shooting weapon that sprays out water or gels, and is capable of shooting bead projectiles from a far distance. Students were shot at both walking across school grounds and while sitting inside their vehicles.

Although Harper didn’t have a lethal firearm, it was still considered a weapon that he brought onto school grounds, which is against Florida law. Harper was arrested by law enforcement and taken into Leon County Detention Facility. Charges included trespassing on school grounds, three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated battery, and violation of probation.

This incident is similar to several cases in Florida and Georgia involving splatter guns. A popular TikTok trend called “Orbeez Challenge” involved teens shooting gel-filled airsoft guns at other individuals. You can read all about the “Orbeez Challenge” here.

A message was posted on a Myrtle Beach Police Facebook page with a message to parents regarding these types of incidents: “Parents, please be aware that these closely resemble firearms and a simple prank could easily turn into a deadly situation. Even though it is not considered a deadly weapon, firing [Orbeez] at individuals is a crime, and individuals can be held responsible.” 

Trespassing on School Grounds

It is illegal in the state of Florida to enter a school campus without permission. Most schools have an office where you sign in with the administration. An individual cannot simply walk or drive onto campus. If there is suspicious activity on school grounds, the campus officers are often called immediately.

Under Florida Statute Section 810.097, trespassing on school grounds is when an individual enters or stays on school property without the permission of the school administration or without a legitimate business purpose. It also includes when the administration has already asked the individual to leave the school premises. To read more about trespassing on school grounds and its penalties and potential defenses, find our blog here.

Bringing a Weapon onto School Grounds

Although Florida has lenient gun owner laws, you are not allowed to bring a weapon of any sort onto a school campus. Under Florida Statute section 790.115, individuals are prohibited from exhibiting or possessing weapons on or nearby school property. It is considered a third-degree felony for an alleged offender to exhibit any of the following in the presence of a person who is rude, careless, angry, or threatening on or near school grounds. 

You can read more about bringing a weapon onto school grounds or recent cases of weapons in Leon County Schools from our specific blogs.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Young people tend to make mistakes. This is due to their brains not fully being developed yet, or the fact that they are not fully aware of the consequences of their actions. This is why it is so important for teens and young adults to become educated on criminal charges and the potential consequences. If you are a student who has been accused of bringing a weapon on campus, or you’re the parent of a student who is in trouble for bringing a weapon on campus, your priority should be reaching out to an experienced defense attorney in your area.

Don Pumphrey and his legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented young clients all across the state of Florida for various criminal charges. They understand the importance of strategizing the best possible defense, and making sure you are fully aware of your rights. Don’t let one mistake affect the rest of your future. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message for a free consultation.

Written by Karissa Key

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