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Online arguments might cross the line to a criminal charge

People who spend any amount of time online can agree that the atmosphere may get emotionally charged. Whether defending a political stance, citing an opinion on a parenting video or engaging in a quest with multiple players in an online game, not everyone agrees with everyone else’s way of doing things. It can also be easy for forget that real people are behind the words one reads on the Internet. Therefore, people in Nebraska and elsewhere might not put much thought behind getting even with someone after an online disagreement.

One such prank that may result in serious criminal charges is called “swatting.” This involves a person calling in a false report to draw armed authorities to another’s house. It may be easy to think no harm will come from this prank, other than the target being frightened or humiliated. However, swatting has potentially dangerous repercussions and can result in criminal charges for the person who called it in.

Recently, a Los Angeles, California, man called police in Wichita, Kansas, pretending to have killed his father and to be holding his family members hostage. When authorities arrived at the unsuspecting man’s home, he moved his arms near his waist and they mistakenly thought he was reaching for a weapon. The man was shot and killed. It was later determined that the prank stemmed from a dispute over an online game, although the target had not participated in the game. The Los Angeles man was arrested and is facing felony false police report charges.

Playing an illegal online prank may change one’s life, regardless if anyone is hurt. Experienced legal counsel is often necessary when facing serious charges.

Source: CNN, "Suspect faces felony charge of fatally 'swatting' man 1,400 miles away," Eliott C. McLaughlin, Jan. 4, 2018

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