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Law professor weighs in on whether Laundrie family can be charged

Expert says it would be a rare case
Posted at 10:41 PM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-01 23:35:55-04

NORTH PORT, Fla.  — It's a question that's been asked on social media even before the remains of Brian Laundrie were found; Will they be charged in connection with the case?

To find out more, we asked a professor at Nova Southeastern University's Shepard Broad College of Law, Randolph Braccialarghe.

Below is transcript of our conversation - edited for length and clarity.

WFTX: Could they (Brian's parents) be charged with a crime if it's found that he was involved in a crime?

RANDOLPH BRACCIALARGHE/NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY SHEPARD BROAD COLLEGE OF LAW: If he confesses to them that he committed a crime, they have to report. If he has committed a capital crime...and they assisted him in getting away, they become accessories after the fact.

WFTX: Would prosecutors or law enforcement ever be able to make that conclusion now that he's dead?

RANDOLPH BRACCIALARGHE/NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY SHEPARD BROAD COLLEGE OF LAW: Well, they'd have to confess and I have no idea what he told them. I have no idea what they knew. I don't think the police do either. If he had committed a third-degree felony or less then in Florida, we make an exception. If you're related by blood or marriage, you can never be charged with accessory after the fact in Florida.

WFTX: We've covered people protesting outside the house. They've accused the family of everything. And one of the things they've brought up is that he family met North Port Police at the door when Brian Laundrie was alive and inside the house. And the parents told police, "He's not allowed to speak to you, contact our attorney." Is there anything illegal about that?

PROFESSOR RANDOLPH BRACCIALARGHE/NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY SHEPARD BROAD COLLEGE OF LAW: No, one does not have to cooperate with police. Now if one's a suspect, for example, if they had a warrant out for his arrest, and then they would have to cooperate. If they had reason to, they could've got a warrant to search the house. If they suspected they had cause to believe that. But apparently the police didn't think so.

WFTX: Based on your knowledge of past cases, would it be unusual for them to bring any charges against the parents for anything connected to Gabby Petito's death?

PROFESSOR RANDOLPH BRACCIALARGHE/NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY SHEPARD BROAD COLLEGE OF LAW: The fact that in Florida, we have this statute that permits family to not be charged with accessory after the fact for third degree felonies, for crimes that are third degree felonies or less. I have never know that to come up, during 40 something years I've been practicing law. Doesn't mean that it hasn't. But I've never been aware of it. Now on the other hand I'm also not aware of family being charged which they could be for accessory after the fact if they aided someone in escaping a justice