Volusia County Sheriff to Charge Parents Fines for Threats

Teenagers in one central Florida county have gone too far, according to a disgruntled sheriff. Sheriff Mike Chitwood of Volusia County has proposed issuing steep fines to parents of students who invent school shooting threats. He believes holding the parents accountable will put an end to their proliferation and force parents to be more involved in their children’s lives.

School Shooting Threats a Serious Crime Post-Parkland

Following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy in Parkland, students all over central Florida have found it amusing to spread rumors of school shooting threats via social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The students dispersing these hoaxes think it’s a joke and typically act without intent of committing harm; however, several students have been arrested in the weeks since the real shooting took place on Valentine’s Day.

Each time a student makes a threat, they face questioning. Law enforcement officers must investigate each and every threat of violence, no matter how trivial. In many cases, students claim they were joking; Mr. Chitwood makes it clear that in this day and age, this is not an acceptable excuse.

“In today’s climate, we have to investigate every single threat. It’s really sad as to what our society and what our future looks like when you have a group of knuckleheads that think it’s funny to say I want to blow up the school.” — Sheriff Mike Chitwood, Volusia County

Over a span of just nine days, Volusia and Flagler police agencies reported investigating 27 potential threats. Eight students were arrested in connection to these threats and one student was forced to undergo a medical evaluation. Since March 2, 2018, a total of fifteen students had been charged for threats, jokes, and comments about guns.

Fines can reach over $1,000 for making a single threat against a school, and the fine is in addition to the consequences a student may face for his or her criminal charges. According to Chitwood, “The true cost could be much higher depending on the resources required in each individual case.”

By “resources,” the sheriff refers to the fact that each threat made by a student, whether legitimate or hoax, requires the extensive use of law enforcement tools. Every time a student threatens violence against a school in Volusia County, the police department must send a deputy to the school to conduct a thorough check for guns and bombs. The costs of these investigations can quickly exhaust police funds.

What to do if Your Child Faces Criminal Charges

Following an arrest, the State Attorney’s Office must decide on the formal charges the student must face and whether to try him or her in juvenile or adult court. Neither of these proceedings is a walk in the park. Students can face serious hardships as they attempt to graduate high school, enter into higher education programs and get on with their adult lives. School shooting threats are felonies that may be difficult to remove from their criminal records.

In the juvenile system, a student could be sentenced to probation or detention in a juvenile facility. Florida juvenile facilities are widely regarded as some of the worst in the nation. You are strongly urged to consult an experienced juvenile defense lawyer to discuss what lies ahead for your child.

If your child is a student in central Florida and faces criminal charges, talk to an attorney with The Umansky Law Firm as soon as possible. His or her entire future is at stake, and it may be impossible to secure a better future without the help of a competent Orlando juvenile defense attorney. Contact our firm online or call 407-228-3838 to discuss your child’s case.