Those who make false crime reports could risk felony charges if a proposed measure introduced into the Florida Senate becomes law.
Filed on Feb. 11 by Bradenton Republican Sen. Jim Boyd, SB 1234 would establish enhanced criminal penalties for those who, under certain circumstances, willfully make false crime reports. The measure specifically seeks to stem the growing use of “Swatting” to harass others.
Swatting is a form of harassment in which attackers try to trick law enforcement into sending heavily armed strike forces – like a S.W.A.T. Unit to the scene of a false crime report.
According to Florida Police Chiefs Association President, Chief Jeff Pearson, of the Satellite Beach Police Department, the practice puts innocent people at risk.
“The practice of swatting has become more frequent, and its effects more expensive and destructive, both for the public and the law enforcement officers unwittingly put into those dangerous situations,” Pearson said.
Under SB 1234, if a federal, state, district, municipal, or other public safety agency responds to address the reported crime, and the combined cost incurred by all responding agencies exceeds $1,000, then the person making the false crime report could be charged with a third degree felony.
If the response results in great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement, or permanent disability then the person making the report may face second degree felony charges.
If death results from response, the person making the false report report could be charged with a first degree felony.
If passed, SB 1234 would become effective upon being signed into law.