TECHNOLOGY

THREATS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

In January 2016 a student at Hamilton High School in Chandler was arrested after posting a threat to the school on Snapchat. Although the student claimed that the threat was intended to be a joke, the student was taken into custody and could have faced serious consequences. Why? Because posting a threat on social media is a potential criminal offense.

Here in Arizona, a person who threatens or intimidates another person or group of people, whether through actions or even mere words, may be charged with the crime of “threatening or intimidating.”

Under the Criminal Code (ARS 13-1202), a person may be charged with the crime of “threatening or intimidating” if (among other things) he or she:

Under the Criminal Code (ARS 13-1202), a person may be charged with the crime of “threatening or intimidating” if (among other things) he or she:

(a) threatens to cause physical injury to another person

(b) threatens to cause serious damage to the property of another person

(c) threatens to cause “serious public inconvenience” (such as the evacuation of a building or other space or facility); or

(d) makes a threat in a manner that recklessly disregards the risk of causing a “serious public inconvenience” (in other words, what matters is whether or not the threat is likely, rather than specifically intended, to result in the evacuation of a building or other space or facility)

This is why it is important to keep in mind that a threat that is posted to social media will be taken just as seriously by police and school officials as a threat that is made to a person or group of people directly, whether or not it is meant as a “joke.”

Laws may have changed since the last time this article was updated.  The current and most up-to-date laws can be accessed here. 

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