False Threat of Terrorism
In 2002, Michigan adopted a law to cover situations that involve false threats or reports of terrorism. MCL 750.543m, which is classified as a high severity felony, provides:
- A person is guilty of making a terrorist threat or of making a false report of terrorism if the person: threatens to commit an act of terrorism and communicates the threat to any other person or, knowingly makes a false report of an act of terrorism and communicates the false report to any other person, knowing the report is false.
- It is not a defense to a prosecution under this section that the defendant did not have the intent or capability of committing the act of terrorism.
- A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years or a fine of not more than $20,000.00, or both.
Our typical clients prosecuted under this law are youthful male offenders (age 17 to 24) or juveniles (under age 17) without any prior criminal history. Although not always, most cases involve inappropriate communications on social internet sites such as Twitter and Facebook which are brought to the attention of law enforcement. Criminal charges may be pursued even if the message is immediately removed from an internet forum or only seen by one person. A few examples of cases that we have seen:
- Internets post on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter which contain threats to shoot individuals at former place of employment (fast food chain).
- Juveniles (age 14) overheard at lunchtime planning an event to shoot other students at school that are not wearing a red shirt.
- Youthful offender using an anonymous third party in the UK to cause a swat/police response upon another person (swatting). The offender in this case was ordered to pay restitution over $10,000.00 because of the unprecedented response by several emergency units (police, fire, EMS, SWAT, and assistance from neighboring police agencies).
Wikipedia defines swatting as an act of deceiving an emergency service into sending a law enforcement or SWAT team to another person's address, based on the false report of a bomb threat, murder, hostage-taking or other alleged incident. According to Wikipedia, swatting is a form of terrorism designed to cause disruption, waste police resources, divert attention from real crises and possibly cause a risk of injuries and psychological harm to the persons and first responders targeted.Prank or Hoax is Not a Defense, School Board Action Inevitable
Often, the communications which form a basis to charge an individual with making a false threat of terrorism are easily linked to the offender’s IP address by law enforcement officers. Once confronted, most youthful offenders will make incriminating statements or provide a detailed confession. Unfortunately, a person is subject to prosecution even though the inappropriate communication was intended as a prank or hoax. The offender may also face multiple charges including using a computer to commit a crime when a computer or smartphone is utilized in the commission of the underlying offense. In addition to the criminal charges, youthful offenders charged with making a bomb threat or false report of terrorism face school board action whereby expulsion is mandated.Defending False Threat of Terrorism Cases, Restitution, Probation
It is imperative to that a sound defense strategy is employed as soon as possible because false threat of terrorism cases are classified as Class B felonies for sentencing purposes, are generally non-negotiable by the prosecutor and can carry imprisonment!
In our opinion, most charges that we have seen prosecuted under this statute are an excessive reaction by the government in the war against terrorism.
ABDO LAW believes in taking an aggressive stance in the handling of these cases. Our defense strategy begins by obtaining a psychological profile of our client to counteract the government’s position about protecting society. In addition to presenting the accused party as someone lacking violent propensities, we may also utilize character letters from a cross section of members in the community which depict the charitable and gregarious qualities of our client.
By taking proactive measures, we have obtained probation (no jail) on behalf of our clients and HYTA status, saving youthful offenders from a criminal conviction. As I have mentioned, offenders can also be ordered to pay restitution to compensate victims for losses incurred by the false threat or report of terrorism.
Contact the ABDO LAW FIRM for comprehensive criminal legal representation if you are accused of any misdemeanor or felony. Legal entanglements are often manageable. All it takes is one phone call to get answers to your most pressing legal questions and immediate attention to your legal problem by attorneys with the highest legal ratings.
Matthew S. Abdo, Super Lawyer, Top Ranked Criminal Defense Lawyer
Cy M. Abdo, Martindale Hubbell, highest possible rating for integrity and legal ability
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