Teenagers can be impulsive and do not always recognize the consequences of their actions. They may do something illegal in an attempt to look “cool” among their peers or as an act of rebellion. Unfortunately, police will take a crime allegedly committed by a teenager just as seriously as an alleged crime committed by an adult. A recent event Bartow High School demonstrates just how serious crimes allegedly committed by teenagers can be.
High school student faces arson charges after incident at school
A 16-year-old high school student is facing arson charges among other criminal charges after allegedly setting fire to a soap dispenser in a school bathroom around 9:15 a.m., Friday, September 24. Students were evacuated to a safe place outside the building and the fire was extinguished.
A student resource officer sustained smoke inhalation injuries which have been described as “minor.” The teenager is now facing several criminal charges including arson of an occupied structure, arson resulting in injury and disrupting the educational process. The teenager is now in the Juvenile Assessment Center. A joint investigation is ongoing.
The “devious lick” challenge on the social media platform TikTok that encourages destruction of school property does not appear to be a factor in this incident.
What constitutes arson in Florida?
Florida law defines arson as a crime in which a person willfully and unlawfully sets fire to a dwelling, occupied or not, or sets fire any structure where people are normally present, including schools. Arson is a first-degree felony in Florida. The fire must damage the dwelling or structure.
Teenagers who commit crimes will be prosecuted
Prosecutors will treat crimes committed by teenagers seriously, and a conviction could have a significant impact on a teenager’s future. While the law and the circumstances surrounding the incident will determine whether the teenager is tried as a juvenile or an adult, it is important for that teenagers facing criminal charges along with their parents understand all of their legal rights and options so that a solid defense strategy can be formed.