A new-to-the-job teacher was arrested on her first day in Jacksonville this week. The teacher allegedly brought a stun gun to her classroom, according to an article in the Florida Times Union. The report indicates that the woman felt threatened by the students and had the weapon in her purse, but denied ever taking it out or displaying it. The students that were interviewed apparently described the weapon. The teacher was arrested for possession of a weapon on school property, which is a third degree felony in Florida.
Florida law prohibits the possession or discharging of firearms or weapons on any school property or school-sponsored event. “Weapons” are defined as stun guns, knives, slingshots and tear gas guns. A common pocket knife is not considered a weapon in under this gun/weapon law. If a person knowingly possesses a weapon on school property, they are facing not only becoming a convicted felon, but also five years in prison. If a person fires or discharges the weapon on school property, the Jacksonville gun case becomes more serious and converts to a second degree felony exposing the person to fifteen years in Florida prison.
The article indicates that the woman had no prior criminal history. This is extremely important and plays a big part in the possible disposition of her case. When someone is arrested for a non-violent and non-gun felony in Jacksonville and they have no prior arrests or convictions, the person is eligible for a diversion program called Pretrial Intervention. (also referred to as PTI) This is a program through the State Attorney’s Office and is discretionary, meaning the prosecutor picks and chooses who gets in. The value of hiring a private Jacksonville criminal defense attorney is that the attorney can contact the prosecutor assigned to the case before they make a decision to file or not to file. If you are able to participate in the program, you must sign a contract promising to complete the conditions required. Conditions of a PTI contract vary depending on the crime charged. If the crime is a weapon crime, such as in this teacher’s case, conditions could be completing a weapon/gun safety class, completing a anger management class and a paying a fine. If the criminal charge is a marijuana possession case, conditions of PTI are usually getting a drug evaluation with random urinalysis. If a person is arrested for a theft charge, a condition of PTI would be taking an anti-theft class and possibly completing community service hours. Once all conditions are completed, the charge or charges will be dropped completely.