Teen’s Computer Prank Leads to Felony Charge
Our Delray Beach and West Palm Beach juvenile defense lawyers know that felony charges are not reserved for suspected murderers, drug cartel leaders and armed bank robbers. Earlier this month, a Florida teenage was arrested for and charged with a felony relating to a prank he pulled on his teacher.
The 14-year-old teenager allegedly logged into his school’s internet network using an administrative password (without permission, of course) and changed a teacher’s computer background to an image the teen thought would be funny.
While the desktop background image prank might seem harmless, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said the arrest and charges were warranted because someone who hacks into a protected internet network, such as a school district’s, has access to a great deal of sensitive and confidential information.
Our Delray Beach and West Palm Beach juvenile defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that unauthorized hacking into a school computer system for the purpose of pulling a prank is wrong. That said, should the 14-year-old teenager who pulled the prank have been arrested and charged with a felony? Does he deserve to potentially be a convicted felony due to an apparent lapse in judgment? We don’t think so.
The teenager who gained access to the network, and had the chance to view confidential FCAT questions (but didn’t view them), was able to access the system because he had seen the teacher, who was the would-be victim of the prank, enter his password (which was really just his last name) multiple times. According to the teen, he and others had used the password multiple times in the past for various harmless reasons. Our Delray Beach and West Palm Beach juvenile defense lawyers think it’s important to understand the purpose of the hacking; the teen didn’t break into the network to steal confidential information, harm the records of anyone, or gain an unfair advantage in any way, while police acknowledge he had the chance to view unpublished test questions.
While his actions may have been inappropriate and offensive to some — he changed the desktop background image on this teacher’s computer to an image of two men kissing — they do not necessarily reflect the actions of a felon, but rather the indiscretion of a teenager trying to pull a prank on a less-than-favorite teacher.
As our Delray Beach and West Palm Beach juvenile defense lawyers know from experience, it’s quite likely that the record of this arrest and these charges will be expunged and/or sealed, either through a spelled-out process of law or through an automatic process by which most juveniles’ records (which the exception of those relating to certain crimes) are sealed after a number of years.
If you or your child has been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please contact our experienced criminal defense and juvenile defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363) to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to helping you.