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Tampa, Florida Teen Sentenced to 15 years in Prison for Threatening to Discharge a Destructive Device at Freedom High School

Tampa, Florida teenager Jared Cano’s life as he knows it is over. Today in Hillsborough County Circuit Court in Tampa, Florida, Jared Cano was sentenced to 15 years in the Florida Department of Corrections for what police say was a plot to make a Columbine style attack on Freedom High School. Tampa police were tipped to Cano’s plans by a fellow Freedom High student. In following the tip, police found materials used to make bombs in addition to a timer presumed to be used to detonate the bomb. Additionally, several news agencies were able to get their hands on disturbing cell phone videos taken by Cano describing his heinous intentions. Cano’s Tampa criminal attorney contested the allegations, stating that the plans were nothing more than fantasies of a teenager and that Cano never planned on following through with his scheme.

After an expert hired by the Tampa criminal lawyer opined that there was nothing seized as evidence that would explode, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Kimberly Fernandez sentenced Cano to 15 years in the Florida Department of Corrections to be followed by 10 years of felony probation. Cano has 15 months of credit for time served in jail but will have to serve out 85% of his sentence under current Florida law.

Cano was convicted under Florida Statute 790.162 for threatening to discharge a destructive device and under Florida Statute 790.161(2) for attempting to discharge a destructive device.

To be convicted of threatening to discharge a destructive device under 790.162, the State Attorney’s Office must show that the individual charged threatened to discharge a destructive device with an intent to do bodily harm to any person or that the individual has an intent to damage property of any person. If convicted as Cano was, one would be looking at a second degree felony conviction, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

For Cano to be convicted of attempting to discharge a destructive device under 790.161(2) the State Attorney would had to have proven at trial that Cano willfully and unlawfully attempted to discharge a destructive device with the intent to do bodily harm to a person or to do property damage. Like the threat of discharging a destructive device, an attempt to do so is a second degree felony.

At his sentencing Cano pled to additional drug charges. Ultimately Cano could have faced 37 years in prison if sentenced to the maximum for all charges. Florida uses a numerical formula to dictate a minimum permissible prison sentence. In using the formula dictated in the Florida guidelines, Cano would have scored but 12.15 months in the Florida Department of Corrections. So why the 15 years? A sentencing Judge has wide discretion in sentencing up to the maximum possible sentence. In this case Cano’s threats were very real and no doubt this Judge wanted to send a message that this kind of thing won’t be tolerated. The tragedies of Columbine and Aurora, Colorado are all too familiar and no doubt the videos found on Cano’s cell phone aggravated his situation.

At the end of the day justice often calls for results contrary to what a guideline recommends. In most instances this occurs in a sentence in excess of what is necessary to punish. In this instance Judge Fernandez imposed a sentence she believed provided justice to the State of Florida and those individuals targeted in Cano’s cell phone video. If nothing else can be taken from this sentencing it must be recognized that any threat or act involving terrorism will not be tolerated and will be punished very severely. Rarely am I of the opinion that justice is served by a heavy hammer. In this case, hammer away.

If you’re in need of a Tampa criminal lawyer, contact The Mayberry Law Firm at 813-444-7435.