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What is “swatting” and can you get into trouble for it?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2023 | Uncategorized |

“Swatting” is a practice that has its roots in the online gaming community, where it first got started – but swatting has become a fairly common tactic for revenge or intimidation.

In essence, swatting involves placing a call to emergency services and making up some kind of crisis scenario that requires the authorities to make an immediate response – one that usually involves SWAT teams and officers storming the targeted person’s home. For example, someone may report a false kidnapping or a fake hostage situation – or even pretend that someone is building a bomb or planning a terrorist attack.

Why is it done?

Swatting can have a huge psychological or emotional impact on victims. The sudden intrusion of heavily armed law enforcement officers into their homes can be hugely traumatic. Unfortunately, it can also be fatal. There have been incidents where victims of swatting have been physically hurt or killed when the police made their raids.

Sometimes, young people view swatting as nothing more than a prank – but swatting is highly illegal. It not only wastes public resources and costs the taxpayers money, but it puts people in very real danger.

In Texas, swatting is punished under Penal Code 42.0601, or “false report to induce emergency response.” Without any aggravating factors or prior criminal history, this crime is a Class A misdemeanor, which can be punished with up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. If the perpetrator has two prior convictions for false reports to induce an emergency response, they could face a $10,000 fine and up to two years in jail.

If anybody is seriously injured or killed, however, the crime is considered an aggravated offense and it becomes a third-degree felony. If convicted on that charge, a defendant faces a prison term of up to 10 years.

If you’re accused of swatting, you need experienced legal guidance. The wisest move you can make is to invoke your rights and remain silent until you can learn more about your rights and potential defenses.