Whether you enjoy online gaming or debating, or you have a teenager who likes to play jokes with friends, you understand that the temptation to play a prank is sometimes too great to resist. Some pranks are not only illegal, but can be deadly as well, which could land you or your child in legal hot water. You and other New Yorkers need to understand the serious ramifications of the prank called swatting.
Swatting is named for the prank’s intent of drawing SWAT teams or armed law enforcement to a person’s house after a prankster makes a false call to authorities. You may remember an incident last December that resulted in the death of a Kansas man. As the Huffington Post recaps, the man was shot by police when they mistakenly thought he was reaching for a weapon. He had been the unintended target of a swatting prank after an online gaming dispute.
The FBI reports that there are roughly 400 swatting pranks a year across the country. Often, law enforcement quickly determines that the call was false, but sometimes the target’s home is searched, with the frightened residents put in handcuffs until the misunderstanding is sorted out. As in the above example, in rare cases the prank can take a tragic turn. The man who made the call, as well as two others involved in the gaming dispute, are facing criminal charges.
Recently, a New York representative introduced a bill to more accurately define the circumstances of swatting, instead of lumping the prank in with false police reports or making false threats. The bill also sought to recover the significant costs of investigating a swatting attack. As you can imagine, facing swatting charges can have lifelong consequences. This information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.