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Seventh Grade Girls’ Prank Leads to Their Arrest and Possible Conviction to First Degree Felonies

Being young in our society is no longer an excuse for bad behavior, especially when it leads to criminal behavior. In the past, there seemed to be more tolerance for children just acting like children. However, these days, though children have not become more mature than their past counterparts, they are taking on more liability and responsibility for their actions, especially where their actions are considered criminal.

Seventh Grade Girls’ Retaliatory Actions Against Their Teacher

In late February, three, 12-year-old girls in the seventh grade were arrested and facing charges of poisoning food or water and tampering with consumer products. Their actions: placing red pepper flakes into their teacher’s soda. According to the report, one of the girls had been disciplined by the teacher for pouring glue into the backpack of one of her classmates. The girl, upset about the discipline, enlisted two of her friends to help retaliate against the teacher. While her friends distracted the teacher, the girl poured red pepper flakes into the soda can of the teacher. The teacher proceeded to drink from the can, and started coughing and sputtering. The teacher stated that she choked, had shortness of breath and experienced stomach pains and an agitated, sore throat. The teacher decided to press charges against the girls involved in her poisoning.

Florida Laws on Poisoning of Food or Water and Tampering With Consumer Products

According to Florida law, the crimes of poisoning food or water and tampering with consumer products are both first degree felonies.

Poisoning of Food or Water

Poisoning food or water is the crime of adding, introducing, combining any chemical substance, poison, virus, or bacterium into the food, drink, medicine, or other consumable product with the intent to kill or injure another person. Even though the girls only wanted to pay back the teacher for her disciplinary actions and were not intending to kill her, their intent was still to injure her. The statute does not require that the poisoner has intent to cause serious injury, and it does not matter the level of injury that is ultimately the result of the action. Intent is important in this crime, and though the injury sustained by the teacher was minimal, it triggers this felony.

Florida’s Anti-Tampering Act

Florida’s Anti-Tampering Act provides that the actions that fall under this crime apply to the interference of any consumer product which includes any food, drug, cosmetic, or device that is used or consumed by a person and leads to the bodily injury of another. Bodily injury in this section also does not require that there be a significant or permanent injury associated with the tampering of the product, but that there is a cut, abrasion, burn, physical pain, illness, an impairment of a bodily or mental function, or any other injury that is sustained to the body. The standard and threshold for this crime is very low, as the crime is triggered where there is a reckless disregard for the risk of injury or possible death to which tampering with the product could lead.

Will These Girls be Convicted of These First Degree Felonies?

It is possible that even though these girls were charged with poisoning and tampering with consumer products, they may not be convicted or may receive a lesser sentence because of their age and the fact that the “poison” they used was red pepper flakes, a household cooking ingredient that is not considered toxic or poisonous. If the girls had used a more corrosive and known toxic product, the likelihood of their conviction would increase. Regardless of what the outcome is, it is safe to say that these girls have learned their lessons about how their bad behavior may affect the outcome of their future.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Being young does not automatically mean you are not liable for your actions, especially if they are considered criminal. Age and maturity, however, are factors considered when determining whether to prosecute bad acts by children and young adults. If your child has been arrested for a crime, an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik can help guide you and your child through the criminal proceedings and help advocate on your child’s behalf. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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