PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL (October 28, 2019) - writes that four students from Palm Beach Gardens High School are facing charges for assault after attacking a man in a Walmart parking lot in Lake Park last week. One of the students facing charges is a top football player for the high school who was set to play at the University of Pittsburgh next fall. The defensive tackle turned eighteen last month.

Reports indicate that the students “jumped” a man, pointed a gun at him, and then tossed him from a moving vehicle. The defensive tackle is the only one of the four being tried as an adult and is facing charges for felony battery, robbery, and kidnapping during a felony. Currently, he is on house arrest. The other three suspects are not being identified because they are still minors. 

Two of the other perpetrators were also on the Palm Beach Gardens football team. The players participated in a game just hours after they allegedly carried out the attack. 

Felony Battery Laws in Florida

Felony battery involves the intentional and non-consensual striking or touching of another individual, which causes great bodily harm. A person with a previous battery conviction may be charged with felony battery even in cases where the victim did not sustain great bodily harm. In Florida, felony battery is considered a third-degree felony and individuals convicted of this crime can face up to five years in prison. In order to prove this crime, the state must show that the suspect intentionally struck the other person against that person’s will and in doing so caused permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or great bodily harm to the victim. 

In addition to a maximum of five years in prison, a conviction for felony battery can mean up to $5,000 in fines, community service, restitution to the victim, substance abuse and psychological evaluations and treatments, and counseling. 

Defenses to this charge may include self-defense, defense of others, mutual combat, defense of property, stand your ground laws, and disputes regarding the facts.

Kidnapping is a first degree felony in the state of Florida and it involves forcibly, secretly or by use of threats confining or abducting another person against their will with the intent to collect a ransom, use the victim as a hostage or shield, to carry out another felony, the harm the person, terrorize the victim or another person, or to interfere with a government or political function. 

Individuals convicted of kidnapping a person in Florida can face life in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. As a Level 9 offense, under Florida’s law, a person convicted of kidnapping must be sentenced to at least four years in prison unless there are certain grounds for a reduced sentence. 

Aside from disputing the facts of an alleged kidnapping, defendants may claim that the confinement was incidental to an underlying felony, as would be the case if the defendant robbed a store and told someone in the shop that they had to stand in a certain place. While this would not qualify as kidnapping, it would still potentially be false imprisonment.