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Juvenile Threats on Social Media – When It’s Criminal

juvenile making threats on social media
May 31, 2019 | Written by Dan Margolis

Many parents are rightfully concerned about what their children do on the internet. On social media platforms like Facebook and Reddit or in video games like Fortnite, people trade insults regularly. But sometimes, what’s said crosses the line. For example, making threats on social media or online could result in criminal charges if it causes alarm or if it causes individuals to believe they will be harmed.

It’s not always easy to tell the difference between what constitutes a harmless prank or inducing panic, or what’s online banter versus a criminal threat. There are several cases where the authorities rightfully intervened when a juvenile’s online behavior has gone too far. But other times, prosecutors misinterpret the situation and wrongfully charge a youth with serious criminal behavior.

If your son or daughter is facing charges for statements made online, call 216-533-9533 today for a free consultation with a Cleveland juvenile defense attorney. At The Law Office of Daniel M. Margolis, LLC, we will vigorously defend your child’s rights at every stage of the juvenile justice process.

When Do Online Threats Become Criminal?

Making threats on social media and in some video games is commonplace, especially where taunting and insulting other users is generally accepted. How do prosecutors decide when threats go too far, and it’s time to bring criminal charges? It depends on how credible the threats are and how the target of the threats reacts. In other cases, the threat may be deemed criminal if it is made against a school or another public place.

In March 2019, a middle school student from Norton Ohio was arrested after he threatened to hurt fellow students with an assault rifle he had posted to his Instagram account. The local prosecutor charged him with inducing panic, a second-degree felony. This is defined as causing an evacuation of a public place or causing serious inconvenience or alarm by, among other things, threatening to commit any offense of violence.

Since he is under 18, the case will probably be heard in the juvenile justice system. Although any child over 14 who is charged with a felony can potentially be tried as an adult. This usually only happens when a youth has a history of delinquency, but if the juvenile court finds the allegations are true, they could sentence him to detention, community service, and an indefinite period of community control. If he violates a condition of his community control, he could be committed to the Ohio Department of Youth Services.

Ohio also has a criminal menacing statute, which makes it illegal to intentionally cause another person to believe that you will physically harm them. This is a misdemeanor, which makes it a less serious offense than inducing panic. Even aggravated menacing, which involves threats of serious physical harm, is still charged as a misdemeanor in Ohio. That being said, any criminal charge is significant and should be resolved with the assistance of an experienced legal professional.

Call A Cleveland Juvenile Defense Lawyer

It’s important for teens to realize that the things they say online can have real-world consequences. If your child has been charged with a crime because of threats on social media, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help mitigate the consequences. By intervening early and ensuring that their rights are respected at every step of the process, we can give your child’s case the best chances of a positive resolution.

For a free and confidential initial consultation, call The Law Office of Daniel M. Margolis, LLC, today at 216-533-9533.

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