New Michigan law seeks to swat away false crime reporting
Partly in response to concerns about a new crime known as “swatting,” Michigan legislators have passed a three-bill package that toughens penalties against people who falsely report a crime or medical emergency.
The measures (HB 5431, HB 5432 and HB 5433) were signed into law in October.
Under the new law, judges can require individuals who falsely report a crime or medical emergency to reimburse the state or local government. This includes people convicted of “swatting”: using the Internet to make false emergency phone calls to 911 centers while hiding their actual location or identity. According to the online news site mlive.com, the FBI has estimated that each swatting incident costs law enforcement $10,000 in resources.
The new Michigan law also stiffens penalties for false reporting of crimes that result in serious injury or death (up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000).
Prior to enactment of the three-bill package, there had been no felony for making a false report of a medical or other emergency. With the change in law, these false reports could now result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction. The felony is for cases in which the false reporting results in injury or death.