Swatting in Illinois
With advances in technology, there are more ways to harass victims and commit crimes. One of these ways is called swatting, in which perpetrators trick emergency response personnel into responding to false reports, in order to scare their victims.
What Is Swatting?
Swatting is a criminal prank in which the perpetrator calls the police and falsely reports a dangerous situation. Generally, an offender reports that a violent crime has happened or is about to happen at a specific address, and often threatens further violence. The offender uses technology to mask where the call is actually coming from and makes it appear to the dispatcher as if the call is coming from the hoax victim’s address. When they get the call, law enforcement officers are dispatched, and police and SWAT teams descend upon the victim’s home.
The main purpose of swatting is to harass and scare victims, who have to deal with police unexpectedly entering their homes. But swatting can also be dangerous. If victims try to resist the police, the resistance can result in injury or even, in extreme cases, death.
Swatting may also sometimes result in legal troubles for the victims. Normally, police need a warrant to enter and search a home. But when there is an imminent threat of danger to them, no warrant is required before entering. This means that if there is evidence of other crimes, such as contraband from drug use, in the house, and police find the evidence while they search the house, that evidence is admissible in court.
Committing swatting can result in charges of disorderly conduct. Illinois’s disorderly conduct statute is broad, but it does specifically include calling 911 with a false alarm and reporting information when the caller knows that there is no reasonable basis for the call, and knows that making the call could result in the deployment of emergency service.
This type of disorderly conduct is a Class 3 felony, punishable by two to five years’ imprisonment. It also carries a fine of between $3,000 and $10,000, on top of any other sentence imposed.
Gov. Bruce Rauner recently signed House Bill 3988, which introduces harsher penalties for swatting. It provides that anyone who violates the prohibition against calling 911 must reimburse the agency for all reasonable costs of the emergency response, up to $10,000. The provision does not apply if the court determines that the person is indigent.
It also expands the definition of “emergency response” to include the dispatch of any public official in an authorized emergency vehicle, and any condition jeopardizing public safety and resulting in an evacuation. The bill takes effect January 1, 2016.
If you or your child has been charged with an internet crime such as swatting, it is important to retain the services of a defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact the skilled Naperville criminal attorneys at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC for a free consultation.