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“Swatting” is a Serious Criminal Offense in Ohio

“Swatting” is a Serious Criminal Offense in Ohio
April 15, 2019 Shannon Dawes
Divorce and dissolution under Ohio law.

A seventeen-year-old juvenile is facing over 70 criminal counts after allegations that the youth has made dozens of “swatting” calls across the nation. Although the teen had made numerous swatting calls, it was one call in August of 2018 to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office that led to the teen’s capture. In that instance, the youth called in a fictitious hostage situation to deputies. The home to which deputies were called was unoccupied; however, after further investigation deputies and officers from various agencies were able to track down the teen’s location and link him to numerous other “swatting” incidents.

What is “Swatting” and Why Is It a Big Deal?

“Swatting” refers to the practice of one individual making a call to a law enforcement agency in order to make a false report of a crime or some other emergency. The “swatter’s” intent is to get law enforcement to respond to a person’s home with weapons drawn or with a SWAT special response team. Celebrities, as well as ordinary individuals, have been the victims of “swatting.” Although there are no official numbers being kept as it relates to “swatting,” it is believed that hundreds of “swatting” incidents occur in any given year.

In one high-profile case, a man’s “swatting” prank ended in the shooting death of a Wichita, Kansas resident as police responded to the fake call. The “swatting” is believed to have taken place over an online gaming dispute. That man was recently sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for that and other false reports the man had made to various institutions and agencies. 

“Swatting” is a Fictitious Offense with Real Consequences

Although “swatting” is real and does occur, there is no law on the books that criminalizes “swatting.” Instead, those who are accused of “swatting” will find themselves charged with a number of offenses, including making false alarms (which can be a misdemeanor or a felony). If someone were to be injured or die as a result of a “swatting” call – for example, if an unsuspecting homeowner were to be accidentally shot by police who responded believing there to be an emergency situation, then the person who made the false report may be held responsible for these injuries and/or deaths as well. Not only this, but some prosecutors may attempt to not only convict the “swatter” but also obtain an order requiring the “swatter” to pay back costs incurred in responding to the fake call.

Not Just a “Harmless Prank”

Due to several high-profile “swatting” incidents throughout the country, prosecutors and judges alike are not inclined to view alleged incidents of “swatting” as mere harmless pranks. Juveniles and adults alike may find it difficult to obtain a deferred prosecution or resolve their charges absent a conviction for one or more offenses.

Before you resign yourself to a plea deal requiring you to plead guilty to any “swatting”-related offense, you owe it to yourself to have your case thoroughly examined by a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. There may be various legal issues that would result in some or most of the evidence the prosecutor has against you being kept out of court. This may result in a much more favorable plea agreement or even a dismissal of your charges.

We Can Help You Resolve Your Criminal Charges Successfully

Dawes Legal, LLC can be reached at (614) 733-9999. Call our office if you or your child or loved one has been charged with making false alarms or any other “swatting”-related offense. We will bring our firm’s knowledge and resources to bear in your case and will assist you in obtaining the most favorable outcome possible in your case.