Polk County made national news, when the Sheriff’s Office arrested two Polk County Cyberbullies after the suicide of a teenage girl because of posts on social media. Tampa criminal attorneys have been closely monitoring the situation in Polk County involving the death of a young girl and the arrest of two (2) minor children, who allegedly bullied her causing her to kill herself. As we previously discussed on our Tampa criminal attorneys blog, this is a unique case since it involves two minors accused of essentially causing the death of another young girl through words alone, important First Amendment questions about what constitutes criminal communications and it involved several local well-known attorneys, Jose Baez and Charlie Crist. Again, this case raised the issue of when the Polk County Cyberbullies stopped acting under protected First Amendment speech and started heading into the realm of criminal action.
On November 20, 2013, both attorneys for the young girls charged in the matter announced that all charges would be dropped against both young girls. We have provided a link to an article from the New York Times concerning the update. We anticipated this somewhat from the beginning as it would have been incredibly difficult for the State Attorney’s Office to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. As we discussed in our previous article, it would be very difficult for the State Attorney’s Office to produce evidence of the alleged threats since the defendants certainly wouldn’t testify as to the threats and the alleged victim is deceased. Unless these threats or harassment were documented in writing or electronically in some means, it would have been almost impossible for the evidence to be admitted.
Also as we discussed this case blurred the lines between what is prohibited speech or not, this language does not fit neatly within hate speech or other prohibited speech. While the Polk County Sheriff’s Office was quick to release photographs of the minors, it did not release any of the alleged threats from the minors. Without seeing these specific threats, it is difficult to determine whether or not these statements were constitutionally protected. Also, while the media and many folks in the public were quick to label these young women as the Polk County Cyberbullies, it appears the matter has concluded.
It is also worth noting it may have been difficult to prove the aggravated stalking charges, if the alleged victim invited the contact by responding to the comments and statements. The accused’s defense attorneys would have likely argued the contact was invited by her statements or challenges. Further, there appear to be other issues with the alleged case against the Polk County Cyberbullies.
If you or someone you know have questions about the Polk County cyber bullying case, contact the Tampa criminal attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultations. We have handled these sorts of unique stalking and bullying cases and have even taken them to trial. Additionally, we have handled many injunctions relating to allegations of bullying and stalking as well, these are often associated with these sorts of criminal charges. If you need to consult with one of our Tampa criminal attorneys immediately, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Tampa criminal attorneys using the “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website. We appreciate your time in checking out our Tampa criminal attorney’s blog.