Prank phone calls have been around almost as long as the phone has, but the newly evolving internet age has made it even easier and more sophisticated for people in Illinois and elsewhere to play jokes they think are harmless and won’t get them in trouble. However, as you may be aware, law enforcement considers swatting anything but harmless, and if caught, you could find yourself facing serious criminal consequences.
Swatting usually makes it into the news when something goes horribly wrong with the prank or it impacts multiple people, but it happens more than you might think. Authorities say that the false police reports known as swatting happen at least 400 times a year across the United States. The prank may involve a caller reporting another person for stockpiling weapons or committing violent acts. It could be a fake bomb threat or it could be one person posing as another and admitting to having committed a serious crime. The common factor in swatting is to lure armed law enforcement or SWAT teams to an unsuspecting target’s address.
Man killed after swatting prank
Often, officers who respond to a swatting call are nervous. After all, they believe the resident committed a crime or is planning to commit a crime and/or may be heavily armed. Therefore, you might not be surprised to hear that a swatting prank can turn deadly, as it did during a tragic incident in Wichita, Kansas, last holiday season. As you may remember, the man who answered the door to armed officers had no idea someone had made a false call regarding his address, claiming the resident had killed a family member and was holding others hostage. Officers shot and killed him when they mistakenly thought he was reaching for a weapon.
Illinois law targets act of swatting
In the above case, the caller and others who were in on the prank are facing criminal charges. A new law in Illinois holds pranksters responsible for the costs of responding to a swatting call. This information may make you think twice before calling in that joke against a fellow gamer; however, you may seek a competent defense if you face criminal charges.