School shootings have been increasing in the last several years, which means greater safety measures and stricter guidelines have been put into play. Bringing a weapon to a school, whether it be an elementary school all the way to high school, is not just a cause for suspension or expulsion, but can incur criminal charges as well. The Florida School Board of Education defines weapon possession as acquiring a firearm or object that has the capability to cause serious harm or put another person in reasonable fear of injury. Those objects may include swords, knives, pocket knives, guns, pepper spray, etc. Florida schools have a zero-tolerance policy; if a student brings any of those objects or a firearm to school grounds, school facilities off-site, at a school bus stop, on a school bus, or within 1000 feet of the school, that student will be expelled for one (1) year and submitted for a criminal charge.
If the incident involves a firearm, the charge will be, under Florida Statute 790.115 (4): “Any minor under 18 years of age who is charged under this section with possessing or discharging a firearm on school property shall be detained in secure detention, unless the state attorney authorizes the release of the minor and shall be given a probable cause hearing within 24 hours after being taken into custody. At the hearing, the court may order that the minor continue to be held in secure detention for a period of 21 days, during which time the minor shall receive medical, psychiatric, psychological, or substance abuse examinations pursuant to s. 985.18, and a written report shall be completed.” As you can see, these penalties are invoked quickly following the arrest. It is possible to limit these penalties at the initial hearing before the Judge.
Florida law states that minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to possess a firearm unless they meet the few exceptions of transporting the firearm to a lawful competition or hunting activities. If a minor is found to have a firearm and not within certain exceptions, the minor can be charged with a 1st-degree misdemeanor. A conviction can range from a three-day detention sentence and 100 hours of community service for a first offense, to a maximum of one year in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. Those charges have harsher criminal convictions if that possession is on school grounds.