Kids who post threats of violence on Snapchat face stiff legal consequences
ABILENE, Texas —
School districts across the country and right here in the Big Country have been threatened on social media. In fact, such incidents of violent threats being made over social media took place less than two weeks ago in Sweetwater and San Angelo, with another threat being made against a school in Amarillo this past Tuesday.
KTXS News spoke with attorney Kevin Willhelm, who has been practicing law for 22 years. Willhelm told KTXS News that the charges a juvenile could face for making a threat against a school can range from harassment to making a terroristic threat.
"When a juvenile makes a comment on social media that threatens another individual and or a school or a public place, they can be charged anywhere from harassment to what's called a terroristic threat," said Willhelm.
According to the Texas Penal Code, a terroristic threat is when a person threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property.
Once a threat against a school is determined to be credible, a juvenile will most likely be detained until there is a resolution for their actions, which could take months to be decided.
"Within 48 hours, there will be a hearing in front of a judge, they will appoint an attorney if the juvenile can't afford an attorney and then they will determine whether or not that juvie needs to be detained for further evaluation," Willhelm said.
The punishments for a juvenile who makes a terroristic threat against a school range from deferred probation to a sanction 4 or 5, which means the child accused of making the threat will be placed in a facility where they will get counseling specifically designed to meet their own personal needs.
Willhelm advises all parents to monitor their children's social media account activities regularly.