Mimesis Law
21 March 2019

Christian Canete: Florida’s Littlest Felon

Oct. 22, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — The first decade of a child’s life is replete with firsts: first steps, first words, first days in school, and more.  For nine-year-old Christian Canete, the first decade of his life brought with it another set of firsts: first felony charges and the first publicly displayed mug shot.

A 9-year-old Fort Myers boy is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of battery after he struck his sister in the head with his hands and a TV remote and then brandished a butcher knife in front of his sister and grandmother.

The grandmother, 71, told deputies that her grandson became upset at her and his sister, 11, over personal issues and began striking the sister on the head with his hands and a television remote control. The report also said the grandmother told deputies that the boy tried to pull her to the ground.

The grandmother also said the boy then got a butcher knife from a kitchen drawer and began walking toward his sister and the grandmother.

The report said that the boy put the knife back after his sister called police. Both the sister and grandmother told deputies that they were in fear for their lives when the boy was pointing the knife at then [sic] and got to within four feet.

That’s a scary enough scenario, but I’m not here to discuss the nature of what might have led to Canete’s outburst and a need for the police to be called.  What makes this incident truly deplorable is the officers’ actions following their summons to Canete’s grandmother’s residence.

The sister told deputies she called them not to get her brother to get in trouble, but just to scare him. Because the action is considered domestic violence, deputies told the girl and [sic] it didn’t matter if the reporting party wanted to press charges.

This is also what is known as “complete and utter bullshit.”  It was certainly within the deputies’ power to refrain from arresting Christian Canete, and that is made very clear in the Florida statutes concerning domestic violence:

 (2) When a law enforcement officer investigates an allegation that an incident of domestic violence has occurred, the officer shall handle the incident pursuant to the arrest policy provided in s. 901.15(7), and as developed in accordance with subsections (3), (4), and (5). Whether or not an arrest is made… (emphasis added)

Those bolded words in the Florida statute quoted above mean the cops who spoke with Canete’s sister and grandmother were either honest idiots or absolute liars.  They could’ve refrained from arresting a nine-year-old boy; they just felt like it was a good idea at the time.

In case further illumination is needed, take a gander at the arrest policy delineated above:

The decision to arrest shall not require consent of the victim or consideration of the relationship of the parties.

In fairness to the cops, they played it by the rules here. They didn’t need consent of the sister or grandmother to arrest a nine year old boy.  It’s just important to note they didn’t have to make an arrest, despite what the deputies previously stated.

With the bad child now cuffed and in processing, it became time for Baby’s First Mugshot.  The photo went from processing to the Lee County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page, prompting a bit of an outrage from Canete’s mother.  She took to the virtual town hall of Facebook to air her grievances, which prompted responses ranging from the well meaning but misinformed to the epitome of internet lawful.

While Barbara Canete’s feelings may be valid, the law in Florida does actually allow Christian’s mugshot to be posted online and data pertaining to his arrest made public.  The Florida Attorney General made that easier back in 1994 when reviewing the way certain information on juveniles is disseminated to the public.

And since Christian Canete’s brandishing of a butcher knife made the entire matter a felony affair, a nine-year-old boy in Florida awaits his first preliminary hearings, while photographic evidence of his first really bad decision remains publicly available for as long as the interwebs remain in existence.

The boy was arrested and will appear in court on Nov. 5 to face two felony charges of aggravated assault, a charge of battery on a person 65 or older and another charge of battery.

This entire matter reeks of terrible discretion by all parties beyond the family. The sister’s decision to call 911 may have been justifiable, but she didn’t want to see her brother arrested.  That’s a different matter than the sheriff’s deputies, who had plenty of discretion whether to arrest Christian Canete and chose to exercise it.  Their choice to aggravate the charges against Canete, and their choice means a child under ten now has a rap sheet before the fifth grade.

And Barbara Canete can do nothing about it except lament as people on the Internet make her Facebook’s villain du jour.

8 Comments on this post.

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  • Eric Vancleave
    22 October 2015 at 10:36 am - Reply

    If it gets to the point that a child is threatening family members with a knife and the family fear for their lives, perhaps the child needs some type of help. I can’t speak for these officers and I don’t know this child’s background but sometimes children are charged and placed under arrest for actions like this in order to ensure the child receives some sort of court mandated counseling. You can’t always count on the family to get the child help.

    • CLS
      22 October 2015 at 12:08 pm - Reply

      The cops could have scared him good, let him go, and released him back to his grandmother. They didn’t.
      The cops could have notified his mother as soon as they talked him into being “remorseful” and released him into the mother’s custody. They didn’t.
      The only thing that was “helped” here is a prosecutor’s potential conviction rate for felonies based on this arrest.

      What kind of “help,” if any, a nine year old boy needed isn’t the point. The point is the police could have handled this any number of ways beyond their fictitious arrest of the child, and they knew it.

      • shg
        22 October 2015 at 1:07 pm - Reply

        There’s a flawed implicit assumption that, even if a child is in need of help, the government is a competent source to provide it. The government is good with bludgeons. Not so good with caring for children in need.

  • jdgalt
    22 October 2015 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    The family handled it wrong, too. The only defense against this kind of overreach by police and prosecutors is to refrain from calling the police.

    • CLS
      22 October 2015 at 12:29 pm - Reply

      That may have been the case, but when a small child is being allegedly threatened with a butcher knife I’m not going to fault them for calling the police, especially when that child more than likely has been indoctrinated since the concept was understandable that police were there to protect you and serve the interests of justice.

      The fault here lies with the officers who arrested her brother, and told her that it was necessary because it was “domestic violence.”

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    25 October 2015 at 6:01 am - Reply

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  • Mary Bagi
    29 April 2016 at 10:26 am - Reply

    And off to a life in and out of prison he goes. America!