Commonwealth Attorney emphasizes consequences for student crimes


Chloe Bishop

Commonwealth Attorney Andrew Rice speaks to Christine Thornton’s 3B freshman health class. Photo on Feb. 21, 2019

Commonwealth Attorney Andrew Rice visited freshmen health and P.E. classes to discuss topics such as computer harassment, sexting, alcohol, and drug crimes and the consequences associated with them.

Earlier this year, Ocean Lakes received threats in a bathroom stall.

“[Threats] have to be taken seriously, and the students undermine it by not knowing until they get charged and taken out in handcuffs,” said resource officer Michael Lohse, who said hundreds of mass shootings take place every year.

According to Principal Claire LeBlanc, threats create a disruption and evoke fear. In fact, if a student posts a threat via electronic device, it results in a felony charge.

“It doesn’t matter if they meant it to be a threat or not, there are legal consequences with the school,” said LeBlanc. “You have the legal side and the school side; there could be consequences for both.”

Rice also spoke about sexting, a problem resulting from technology. Sexting defines as, “writing sexually explicit messages, taking sexually explicit photos of yourself or others, and transmitting those photos as messages to peers.”

By sending an explicit picture, someone faces up to 20 years for distribution of child pornography, up to 40 years for creation of child pornography, and enters the sex offender registry for life.

Rice finished his presentation by addressing drug crimes and drugs in school. If a student has drugs in their backpack at school and an administrator finds it, the school is required to contact the police.

“If you are over age 14, you can be tried and convicted as an adult if you are charged with possession,” said Rice.

According to one freshman, Tay O’Neill, Rice explained that if you have possession of marijuana, you can get 30 days of jail. For selling it, the minimum is five years and maximum is 30 years.

“We bring him in not to scare kids but to educate kids. [These activities] are not unique to Ocean Lakes,” said LeBlanc. “It has become pervasive across all schools. We are trying to become more proactive.”

After Rice’s presentation, freshmen have been educated about the severity of crimes committed in and out of school.

“I learned that drugs can affect people’s lives in a way you would not expect,” said freshman Isabelle McGrath. “You should think about your future before you make a dumb decision.”