Florida teen charged with felony after prank escalates

A 15-year-old Florida high school student has been arrested and charged with a first degree felony after what school administrators described as a prank that sent a teacher to the hospital. The boy apparently added some hand-sanitizer to his teacher’s soft drink as a practical joke, which the county superintendent said was consistent with his previous behavior of joking around. School officials say that they do not believe he intended to hurt the teacher. Unfortunately in this case the teacher was injured in the process and went to the hospital after drinking some of the tainted beverage and becoming physically ill.

A first degree felony conviction would impact this boy for the rest of his life, turning a high school prank into difficulty finding work or housing, and being disqualified for federal student loan and scholarship programs.

Children who commit crimes often do not appreciate the gravity of their actions or cannot accurately predict the outcome of certain dangerous choices. This is one of the big reasons why the court system treats juveniles differently than adults, recognizing that children have a lesser ability to reason and control their impulses than adults. It is not clear in this case whether the boy is being prosecuted in the adult system or in the juvenile system.

In addition to the criminal ramifications, the boy may be expelled from school. He is currently suspended while the expulsion hearing is pending. It is not clear whether the boy realized that hand sanitizer could be harmful or if he thought it would just make the beverage taste bad.

Source: NWF Daily News, “Teen accused of putting hand sanitizer in teacher’s drink,” March 12, 2014.