Fake threats against Tampa Bay area schools have been constant this school year.
The consequences have been very real for the students accused of making these threats.
Assistant Public Defender Tayna Alexander saw it firsthand with a 16-year-old client.
“He has experienced a lot of trauma over this event. He was expelled from school, he’s been ostracized by his peers,” Alexander said.
The teen was accused of making a threat to shoot up his school, while talking to some other kids in class.
“We actually went to trial and he was found not guilty,” Alexander said.
But, Alexander said, none of that may matter when the “straight A” student with no criminal record applies to college.
“Mass shootings are continuing to become a major problem and, you know, in two years,” Alexander said, “we don’t know if college admissions are gonna say ‘we don’t want anything that remotely looks like something like this, even though that child got a not guilty,’ we [do not] know if they’re gonna wanna take precautions, because if they don’t and something happens, you know nobody wants to be put on the line for that.”
For the students who are found guilty of making a threat, which is a felony, Assistant State Attorney William Schooper said do not just assume your criminal record as a kid will not follow you into adulthood.
“Any delinquency criminal history is on your record until you actively have it expunged or sealed,” Schooper said.
Schooper said, even then, you must meet certain requirements, so there are no guarantees.
“There’s going to be some consequence for anybody, who ends up with this charge on their record, whether it’s conviction, whether it’s probation, whether it’s a job rejection or something along those lines,” Schooper said.