Matt Klotz – Legal Analysis

We previously reported that Matt Klotz, a resident of West Boca and Olympic Heights graduate, was arrested for what appeared to be a bomb threat. We now have more details and have reviewed the law he’s accused of violating, as well as the court docket.
Klotz is accused of violating section 790.163 of the Florida Statutes, which is titled: “False report about planting bomb, explosive, or weapon of mass destruction.” According to police, Klotz was at or near the John Legend concert in Mizner Park, and told a private security guard that he had “put a bomb on all the buses.”

That guard then contacted Boca Raton police, who detained Klotz and questioned him. Klotz then admitted making the statement and claimed he did so as a joke and that he thought the guard would have thought it was funny.
Apparently some people take such things more seriously than Mr. Klotz imagined. Police allege that 100 employees were disrupted from their duties, the area was evacuated, the bomb squad was called in and examined eleven vehicles.
Section 790.163 states: “It is unlawful for any person to make a false report, with intent to deceive, mislead, or otherwise misinform any person, concerning the placing or planting of any bomb … and any person convicted thereof commits a felony of the second degree.” Most felonies we report are third degree so this is considered more serious.
The law specifically prohibits suspended or deferred sentences, as well as withholding adjudication.
There is one key legal and factual issue that may work to Mr. Klotz’ favor. The law requires that he acted “with intent to deceive, mislead, or otherwise misinform.” Since he said it was a joke and that he thought the guard would think it was funny, there is a question as to whether this case meets that intent requirement.
Our legislators in Florida did consider that, so they included an important provision in the law:

Proof that a person accused of violating this section knowingly made a false report is prima facie evidence of the accused person’s intent to deceive, mislead, or otherwise misinform any person.

The term prima facie means that Klotz having knowingly made the false report (which police say he admitted) is enough proof that a jury can conclude he had the intent to deceive. So a judge would not dismiss the case for lack of such proof. It still might be a challenge for the prosecution to persuade a jury that he intended to deceive.
While it doesn’t look good for Klotz, brief analysis suggests he scores low on Florida’s sentencing guidelines. While in theory the maximum sentence for a 2nd-degree felony is 15 years, we think he’s unlikely to get any state prison time. Some time in the county jail would seem more reasonable and he may qualify for a few mitigating factors that would lead a judge to sentence him to probation, and/or mental health treatment, rather than jail.
Mr. Klotz is also accused of violating section 509.143 for resisting the security guard’s effort to detain him. That statute is within a chapter on “lodging and food service establishments” and does not appear to apply to the facts in this case. It will hopefully be dismissed.
One other big consequence of this case is also in the statute:

In addition to any other penalty provided by law with respect to any person who is convicted of a violation of this section that resulted in the mobilization or action of any law enforcement officer or any state or local agency, a person convicted of a violation of this section may be required by the court to pay restitution for all of the costs and damages arising from the criminal conduct.

We’re guessing the cost of the bomb squad examining 11 vehicles, plus the costs of the evacuation, will probably exceed $10,000. Paying that restitution can be one of the mitigating factors that will help reduce the sentence.

Boca Raton Bomb Squad
Boca Raton Bomb Squad

The Sheriff’s blotter shows that Mr. Klotz was released from jail in the evening, after spending around 24 hours in custody.