In today’s climate, any credible threat against a school or educational institution is treated as if it is the real thing. SWAT teams may be mobilized, classrooms emptied and students rounded up for questioning. There just is no margin of error when so many lives are at stake.
The flip side of this equation is that teens and adolescents are notoriously impulsive and subject to saying and doing many foolish things that they never intend to cause actual harm. When someone makes threats to set off a bomb or carry out a mass shooting at the local high school, that, in and of itself, is enough harm to land the perpetrator in jail for many years, regardless of the lack of intent.
Parents may face a nightmare scenario
If it is your child who phoned in a threat or posted it online on social media, you may be blindsided when you are alerted to the situation. You likely will be stunned that your child would be thought to be capable of such a heinous act. Yet, that is exactly what the suddenly not-so-nice police officer is telling you.
While you may protest that your son or daughter is incapable of carrying out mass destruction, under the law, it doesn’t matter. Illinois Compiled Statutes 720 ILCS 5/29D-20, making a terrorist threat, clearly states, in part:
It is not a defense to a prosecution under this Section that at the time the defendant made the terrorist threat, unknown to the defendant, it was impossible to carry out the threat, nor is it a defense that the threat was not made to a person who was a subject or intended victim of the threatened act.
What a parent can do
If your child is facing such a serious charge, the first thing that you need to do is retain an aggressive criminal defense attorney who can protect your child’s rights. Now is not the time to dither or attempt to mitigate the circumstances. Your child is in serious trouble and needs knowledgeable and competent representation by an attorney who is well-versed in criminal law.