A 25-year-old Vero Beach man was taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies earlier this week after he allegedly emailed death threats to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. He is accused of threatening to kill several deputies. The man is charged with three counts of writing threats to kill by sending threatening statements. One of those statements purportedly stated that he would “kill every (expletive) member of IRC Sheriff, you have ruined my life.”
The man is said to have focused on sheriff’s deputies for associating with a former friend he had worked with. The two had gone their separate ways after the man was said to have sent inappropriate messages to the former friend, the friend’s co-workers and employer. Deputies reported that the man continued the threats upon being taken into custody. Florida’s Baker Act was also relied on by deputies.
Threats Over the Internet
Written threats to kill are addressed by Florida Statutes section 836.10. A person who writes, composes, sends or procures the sending of a written threat to kill commits a felony in the second degree that is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Jeffrey H. Garland is an Indian River criminal attorney. He reports that prior to the advent of the internet, section 836.10 was rarely used. Now, with instant internet communications, crimes like writing threats to kill are more commonly prosecuted.
The Baker Act
Florida’s Baker Act is found at Florida Statutes section 394.451, et seq. It permits involuntary commitment for up to 72 hours of any person who might suffer from a mental illness or who is in danger of harming himself or herself or others. A Baker Act involuntary commitment can be triggered by judges, police, physicians or mental health professionals.
A variety of defenses pivoting on the communications in each case can be raised. Findings of a Baker Act examination might also be used for fitness and insanity defenses.
Threats to harm or kill are taken seriously by Florida law enforcement, prosecutors and judges, but given today’s ability to communicate instantaneously, many of such threats might be more bark than bite. Notwithstanding that, a person can still be prosecuted. If you or a family member have been charged with making any kind of threat, don’t admit to anything or give any kind of a confession. Contact Indian River criminal lawyer Jeffrey H. Garland right away at 772-498-2200.