Patterico's Pontifications

1/24/2013

Democrat Proposes (Barely) Increased Penalties for SWATting in California

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:34 am

L.A. Times:

Alarmed that pranksters have called 911 to report false emergencies at the homes of celebrities including Justin Bieber and Tom Cruise, two Southern California legislators have proposed laws to get tougher with anyone engaged in “swatting.”

A bill announced Wednesday by state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) would allow longer sentences for and greater restitution from those convicted of making false reports to the police. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca asked for the measure.

A similar proposal has been introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles).

“The recent spate of phony reports to law enforcement officials that the home of an actor or singer is being robbed or held hostage is dangerous, and it’s only a matter of time before there’s a tragic accident,” said Lieu.

I haven’t had a chance to look at the actual language to see what would change, so we’re dependent on the L.A. Times description, which makes it sound like . . . not much:

Gatto and Lieu both propose that those convicted of making false 911 reports be liable for all costs associated with the police response. Such pranks are “a complete waste of law enforcement resources,” said Gatto.

The Assemblyman’s measure, AB 47, would also increase the maximum fine for conviction from $1,000 to $10,000 and make it easier to file murder charges if someone is killed in a swatting incident.

Existing penalties for false 911 reports include up to one year in jail, but an offender may get probation with no jail time. Lieu, a military reserve prosecutor, wants to set a minimum sentence of 120 days in jail.

Lieu’s proposal also would make it easier to charge someone with a felony if a victim is hurt as a result of a prank call. In felony cases, the penalty could increase to three years in jail. And prosecutors would no longer have to show that the prankster knew injury or death would occur.

I would imagine it’s already possible to collect restitution for the costs of response. I’m not sure how they would make a murder charge easier, but I’m for that — although I would think you could already pursue a murder charge under existing law. From this description, all this bill really does is set a “mandatory” minimum jail time for a misdemeanor, and make it easier to file a three-year felony. Big whoop, says me.

17 Responses to “Democrat Proposes (Barely) Increased Penalties for SWATting in California”

  1. He repeatedly asked her why she didn’t pick up the phone that day and find out the facts, to which Clinton eventually responded sharply, “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. What difference, at this point, does it make?”

    That’s not answering the question.

    In other words she said: “Why do you want to know? Isn’t the important thing that four Americans got killed? What does it matter now what I knew when?

    Of course it matters as far as the functioning of the U.S. government is concerned, and if something is still very wrong.

    This is actually an extremely important question – that’s why she dodged it in a kind of ridiculous way.

    And it’s not just important because maybe it might be personally embarrassing. It’s the other people who might be embarrassed, and worse, where the problem is.

    One value of her testimony is pointing out to people what is important. Hillary Clinton did not avoid answering every little question.

    Sammy Finkelman (728434)

  2. You know some people joke about “suicide by cop”, attacking the police to invoke a deadly response. But really, isn’t SWATting actually “Assault by cop”, brandishing a deadly weapon (SWAT Team!) against another person.

    What would you charge someone with if they released a weasel in a nursery? That’s about the same.

    Xmas (7b4ce9)

  3. The true answer probably is she knew there was no demonstration, she knew the talking points and what Susan Rice was going to say were wrong, not just doubtful, even though there was a caveat that it’s preliminary (based on the information we have at present) and that the assessment may change.

    Maybe her people even fought against the statement and won some points, but she’s not going to skewer anybody’s nomination prospects, for one thing. And there may be other thing she’s protecting.

    Sammy Finkelman (728434)

  4. zany pranksters

    happyfeet (ce327d)

  5. None of this matters if the SWATter doesn’t get caught. Seems like they should be working on the detection end, not the punishment end.

    Steven Den Beste (99cfa1)

  6. Steven is 100% right. The people doing this were ok with potentially killing someone… mainly because they are confident they will not be caught. That is what’s causing the copycats, and that’s where I hope law enforcement can make the biggest difference.

    Dustin (73fead)

  7. Since so many folks on the left express admiration for the Chinese maybe we should adopt some of the methods the Chinese use in dealing with their criminal element. For example if the SWATTER was taken out in a field and shot in the back of the head I’m guessing there would’nt be a repeat performance.

    f1guyus (647d76)

  8. I’d toss in pimps, drug dealers, and child molesters but that might be racist.

    f1guyus (647d76)

  9. #1 & 3- Sammy, do you even look where you’re posting before you do?

    Isn’t it interesting that nothing happened until they could attach the names of a couple high-profile celebs to the problem?

    #7- first there has to be an honest effort to discover the ID of the “swatter”. We don’t seem to have that element yet.

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  10. Send them to jail for a jillion years, but catch them first.

    Pious Agnostic (6ff605)

  11. Because it is likely that someone will either die or be seriously hurt from this, it’s time for everyone to stop calling this a prank.

    tek (2063de)

  12. Are we going to increase the penalties for a few cops who make (or cause to be made) fake 911 calls so they can make an illegal “exigent” entry into a home where a warrant is otherwise required?

    Daniel (6c6924)

  13. We should.
    There should be very limited immunity for LE when they seriously bend the rules that the rest of us are supposed to observe under the threat of criminal prosecution (making a false report seems to be still a crime).

    askeptic (b8ab92)

  14. 9. The original post disappeared. I don’t know how I wound up in this thread.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  15. Ted Lieu is my state senator (regrettably). He is one of those liberal Democrats who aspires to climb the political ladder and he thinks that getting his name on a lot of bills that get signed into law is the way to build a record he can run for statewide office on. It doesn’t really seem to matter much to him whether or not the bill is very effective as long as he can claim credit for sponsoring it. Better yet, he loves to pander to specific interest groups so this one is probably his valentine to the Hollywood crowd who has recently started to be regularly SWATted.

    JVW (4826a9)

  16. Agree with Steven and Dustin above: better to improve detection, penalties are meaningless if no suspect is caught.

    I suspect the FBI can do it with their Patriot Act and other anti-terror powers. Why they are not is the real question.

    But I am against “mandatory sentences” and “zero tolerance” in all cases. If you have a problem with judicial discretion, appoint more discrete judges.

    Estragon (3bc1a7)

  17. SWATing is not a prank. It should be called “attempted murder”.

    Phillep Harding (1b8b26)


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