Bill description: HB 665 would make it a misdemeanor to make any threats against schools or individuals via social media or other electronic means, and would make it a felony to make such threats with a “deadly weapon” in an individual’s possession.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non- violent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?
Currently, individuals who are convicted of threatening others with a deadly or dangerous weapon on school grounds are guilty of a misdemeanor if “the speaker or actor intends to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.”
HB 665 would expand this misdemeanor charge to include any threats against another person on school grounds via electronic means, such as through social media. The requirement for “a serious expression of intent” to commit such an act would also be removed.
Additionally, HB 665 would increase the charge to a felony if the speaker or actor has a “deadly weapon” in his possession.
A deadly weapon is defined in this section as “a weapon, device, instrument, material or substance that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury.”
Increasing this charge to a felony in cases where individuals have a deadly weapon in their possession would cast a wide net that could unintentionally catch individuals. For example, if a student unwittingly makes an unruly comment on social media, then it is found that a deadly weapon, such as a firearm or even a knife is in his vehicle or even his home, the student could face a felony charge for such an action. Or, for example, a parent could contest a decision of the school administration or teacher, and if she were to be caught in a disagreement with a knife in their pocket, she too could face a felony charge.