By Kortney Daly
Miami-Dade County Arrested an 18 year old for Facilitating Drag Racing and Written threat to Kill or do bodily injury. Facilitating a drag race falls under Florida’s Racing Statute which is 316.191. Racing is a misdemeanor in the first degree punishable up to 1 year in the county jail and $1,000 fine. Racing comes with a mandatory license suspension for one year.
Written threat to kill or do bodily injury is a felony in the second degree under Florida Statute 836.10. A person could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. When a Person is charged with Written threats to kill, the State must prove that the 1) Defendant made a threat to kill, do bodily harm, conduct a mass shooting, or conduct an act of terrorism in writing. 2) The Defendant sent, posted, or transmitted that writing. 3) The defendant did so in any manner in which it may be viewed by another person.
The statute used to require that the threat be sent to the target of the threat or their family. The legislature changed the statute in 2021 to remove the requirement that the threat be directed to the target or their family. The legislature did this so that the police could arrest more people on potential threats regardless of whether they are real or founded.
From the information in the article, the defendant said that people should throw fireworks at the police if they confront those at the drag race. I would suspect the state is trying to pursue this under the section about making a threat of terrorism. The statute defines Terrorism as an activity that involved a violent act or an act dangerous to human life which is a violation of the criminal law of this State or of the United States. The Prosecution will likely argue that although the threat is conditional, he is encouraging other to throw fireworks at the police if they confront the people in the drag race. Throwing fireworks at the police could be considered an act of terrorism under the definition of this statute because throwing lit fireworks at a police officer would be Aggravated Assault and Potentially Aggravated Battery if the officers are hit with the fireworks. Those are violations of State laws. Depending on what evidence they have of this defendant encouraging people to throw fireworks at police officers, the Prosecution could potentially prove this case under that theory.
Personally, I think this Statute is too broad. The Legislature made the Statute more broad in order to prosecute more children who make fake posts on social media about school shootings or violent acts at School. The majority of my clients charged with this crime are juveniles. And in most scenarios, they are saying something dumb because they were between the ages of 11 and 13. The State Charges them with a felony and almost never allows them to learn from their mistake and complete a diversion program.
It is a very serious charge to have. Because the legislature changed the Statute in 2021 to make it easier to prove, the Prosecution will likely prevail under this statute for this case. The Legislature should revise the statute to include people who are making legitimate threats to those involved. The law will remain as is it until someone challenges the law.
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