April Fools’ Jokes Gone Wrong
April Fools’ Day falls on the first of April. Many people love this
holiday, while many others dread it. April Fools’ Day is meant to
be lighthearted and funny, but it can go awfully wrong. Today, we saw
what could happen when a prank goes too far.In Wichita, Kansas, a
58-year-old woman was arrested for a shooting prank. Arnthia Willis called her daughter who was at work this morning and claimed
she had been shot. In response, Willis’ daughter called 911 around
8:30 am and reported the “incident.”
15 to 20 police officers, EMS, and firefighters arrived at the scene anticipating
a shooting. To their surprise, however, things turned out differently.
With their shields and weapons drawn, officers broke down the door to
the house and searched around, only to discover that the house was empty.
After further investigating the situation, the police found out that the
“shooting” was an April Fools’ joke. As a result, the
mother was arrested for her unlawful request of emergency service assistance,
also called a “swatting” call.
Swatting is falsely reporting an emergency to public safety for the purpose
of getting a response to location where no emergency exists. In these
situations, police response is overwhelming. Officers confront the situation
with guns and shields drawn, only to learn that there is no real emergency.
After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. However, the police
have identified the intents behind swatting calls to be either a joke
or retaliation against a real or perceived issue.
Penalties for False Alarms or Reports in Texas
A person commits the crime of
false alarm or reporting, or “swatting” when they knowingly initiate, communicate,
or circulate a report of a present, past, or future bombing, fire, offense,
or other emergency that they know is false or baseless and would ordinarily:
- cause action by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with
- place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury
- prevent or interrupt the occupation of a building, room, place of assembly,
place to which the public has access, or aircraft, automobile, or other
mode of conveyance
This crime is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to $4,000 and/or up
to 1 year in jail. If the false report concerns an emergency involving
a school, public communications, public transportation, public water,
gas, or other public service, the crime is a state jail felony punishably
by 180 days to 2 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 fines.
Needless to say, don’t take your April Fools’ pranks too far,
or else it could land you with criminal charges, like it did for Arnthia
Willis today. If you’re in legal trouble for an April Fools’
prank, let us know so we can help protect your rights and defend your
freedom. Contact our criminal defense lawyer at (817) 429-2000.