LANTANA, FL (February 6, 2020) – R.C. Dye, a former high school student, appeared in court this morning after Mr. Dye allegedly made a criminal threat of shooting at the Santaluces Community High School. The arrest record, as reported by WPBF.com, states that on February 3, 2020, a Palm Beach School District officer was advised that an Instagram user "freshprinceofpalmbeachcounty¨ posted on his Instagram page "I'm deada** boutta shoot up Santaluces Community High School.¨
Mr. Dye's mother stated to law enforcement that her son was acting crazy and that her son had not been taking the medication that he was prescribed. Mr. Dye has been charged with a single count of ¨making a written threat to kill or do bodily injury.¨ The judge in the case ordered Mr. Dye to house arrest with monitoring and ordered Mr. Dye not to contact the school.
Florida's Making a Written Threat to Kill or do Bodily Injury Law
According to Florida Statute 836.10 - ¨Written threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism; punishment; exemption from liability,¨ a written threat is a second-degree felony criminal charge. If found guilty, the penalty of violating 836.10 is up to 15 years in jail, monetary fines, and lengthy probation upon release from prison. A Written Threat happens when a person drafts and then makes viewable a threat to cause bodily harm or to kill another individual. A Written Threat also includes threats to conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism. A Written Threat is made ¨viewable¨ by the perpetrator when he or she send the threat by written letter, electronic communication or any form of inscribed communication. In today's Internet Age, a Written Threat can include emails, postings on Facebook or other social media.
Is an “Intent to Harm” necessary in order to bring a criminal case against the perpetrator?
No. In the State of Florida, a defendant could still be charged, prosecuted and found guilty of Florida Statute 836.10 ¨Written threats to kill, do bodily injury” even if the defendant had no intent to actually harm the person he or she threatened.
Isn't Freedom of Speech a Constitutional Right?
There have been several constitutional challenges to overturn Florida Statute 836.10 on the basis of constitutionally protected free speech. However, the courts have always rendered decisions that support Florida’s Written Threats Statute836.10. However, Florida courts have found that the law does provide sufficient notice, and making threats to injure or kill do not qualify as protected speech as outlined in the United States Constitution's First Amendment.
What are some legal defenses to Florida’s Written Threats Statute 836.10?
If you have been charged with a crime, speak with an attorney and do not represent yourself in a criminal trial. The following are only a few of the way an experienced criminal defense attorney may fight criminal charges on behalf of a client.
- The recipient of the threat is lying.
- There is a dispute as to who sent the written threat.
- The written threat was unintentionally posted or sent.
- The threat does not meet the legal standard of a threat.
- The threat was sent by someone else.
- And others.
Given the severity of the crime, it is important that anyone accused of making Written Threats seek experienced legal counsel.