Texas legislators enacted several new criminal laws in the 2021 legislative session. Below, we highlight one of them – Swatting. Being from Texas, I initially thought this might have something to do with mosquitoes, but, as it turns out, Swatting is the act of falsely reporting a crime or emergency to law enforcement or emergency personnel. This new offense is a Class A misdemeanor unless the prosecutor can show that you’ve been convicted of this same offense in the past.
Text of the new law:
Sec. 42.0601. FALSE REPORT TO INDUCE EMERGENCY RESPONSE.
(a) A person commits an offense if:
(1) the person makes a report of a criminal offense or an emergency or causes a report of a criminal offense or an
emergency to be made to a peace officer, law enforcement agency, 9-1-1 service as defined by Section 771.001, Health and Safety Code, official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies, or any other governmental employee or contractor who is authorized to receive reports of a criminal offense or emergency;
(2) the person knows that the report is false;
(3) the report causes an emergency response from a law enforcement agency or other emergency responder; and
(4) in making the report or causing the report to be made, the person is reckless with regard to whether the emergency response by a law enforcement agency or other emergency responder may directly result in bodily injury to another person.
PENALTY: A violation of the Swatting statute is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a range of punishment of 0-365 days in jail and a fine up to $4,000. The offense is enhanced to a State Jail Felony if the actor has been convicted of the same offense twice before. The offense is enhanced to the 3rd Degree Felony if a person is killed or seriously injured as a result of the false emergency call and response.
EFFECTIVE DATE: The Swatting law went into effect on 9/1/21.
SPONSORS: Senate Bill 1056 was a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senator Joan Huffman (R) and Representative Eugene Wu (D). It was approved by both the Senate and the House in unanimous votes.