Children are born innocent and remain that way until they are taught or experience otherwise. For an 8-year-old Florida child, it happened rather quickly when 36-year-old Ernest McKnight III, brought him along on a crime spree in order to ‘toughen the child up’. Though the boy’s relation to McKnight is unknown, he told Polk County police that, “I was trying to toughen him up…I don’t want him to be soft,” according to a news release.
During this quick crime spree, McKnight stole a car, rummaged through another car when its owner stepped away momentarily, stole a package off of someone’s porch, and refused to pull over for a routine traffic stop. Eventually, with the help of the local law enforcement’s helicopter unit he was caught and arrested on the same day.
McKnight is now facing charges of burglary of an occupied dwelling, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, grand theft motor vehicle, tampering with evidence, petit theft and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The unidentified boy has since been returned to his family.
While the child may not have been in direct danger, and this isn’t exactly considered child endangerment, there are still charges such as contributing to the delinquency of a minor. This is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail. It should also go without saying that it’s not psychologically beneficial to the child to witness such behavior, whether from a relative or a complete stranger.
If you or someone you know are being brought up on charges that involve committing a crime in the presence of a minor, consider getting the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Russell Spatz has decades of experience and knows Florida’s legal system through and through. Give him a call today at (305) 442-0200.