By Marie Taylor

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has issued a press release announcing the arrest of an after-school care teacher. The 20-year-old teacher is accused of sending “inappropriate” TikTok messages to a 13-year-old student.  There were allegedly “inappropriate” written messages, along with statement of soliciting, luring, and enticing the 13-year-old to engage in unlawful sexual conduct. If proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the State, this kind of offense is a Third-Degree Felony and carries a maximum penalty of five years in state prison or five years of probation. The somewhat vague description makes it difficult to ascertain the severity of the offenses the teacher is being charged with. From the face of the article, the reader is left wondering about the content of the messages discovered.

former after school teacher arrested for inappropriate behavior

An experienced criminal defense attorney can navigate this legal situation as it develops, especially given the potential for public and media attention. Whether the teacher has been arrested or not, an experienced attorney will work quickly to gather details about the accusations and can work to preserve favorable evidence or talk to witnesses.  Often times concerned members of the public will jump to conclusions after seeing a Sherif’s press release like this. The information published in the media may not accurately describe the communications and news outlets may not have any idea what the messages say. From the HCSO press release, it seems as though the “incident” was reported back in December of 2023 and law enforcement was notified after the Teacher was fired. A skilled defense attorney will investigate whether media pressure could have impacted HCSO’s perception of the accusations. Law enforcement may be serving search warrants or investigative subpoenas behind the scenes and a skilled criminal defense attorney will be able to protect the rights of the accused through raising timely objections and making arguments to the State Attorney.

Defense counsel is then able to advise the accused teacher about which accusations are the most serious, or which have the potential for the strongest legal defenses.  Once the attorney determines the nature, context, type, and content of the TikToks or other communications, the attorney may be able to effectively argue that the communications were not sexually motivated or were not designed to solicit a sexual act. The soliciting, luring, or enticing a child to engage in unlawful sexual conduct as opposed to engaging in some non-sexual act against the law, while still a serious allegation, is a First Degree Misdemeanor, not a felony.

If you or your loved one are being accused of committing a crime, you should consult with one of our Criminal Defense Attorneys, don’t hesitate to call us at 352-WIN-4YOU We are available 24/7 and we offer payment plans.