This month, Richmond County law enforcement officers had to deal with multiple threats made to schools in the area. They all turned out to be hoaxes. However, at a time when school shootings are a very real danger, false threats like these can cause fear and disruption in Kentucky communities and consume considerable public resources. These threats did all of that.
So far, one teen has been arrested for making hoax threats. He’s facing multiple charges, including unlawful communication and aggravated breach of peace.
Threatening interstate communications
Making threats via any interstate communication, including social media, phone, text and email, is also a federal crime. According to the FBI, threats to schools as well as other public places have grown in recent years. A person convicted of this crime can potentially serve five years in federal prison.
Federal authorities don’t consider them a prank or joke – and the potential consequences reflect that. As one FBI official puts it, “We…don’t want to see a young person start out adulthood with a felony record over an impulsive social media post. It’s not a joke; always think before you post.” Remember that deleting something after you post it doesn’t mean it can’t be retrieved – and used against you.
If you or a loved one is facing federal and/or state charges for making a hoax threat (or a real one), it’s crucial to take the matter just as seriously as law enforcement and prosecutors do. Regardless of the intention, words matter – and threatening words are not protected speech. It’s important to seek experienced legal guidance as soon as possible.