A few recent incidences of real or perceived violence at Wisconsin high schools have many communities on edge. In Waukesha, a high school student has been charged with second-degree recklessly endangering safety, obstructing an officer, disorderly conduct and dangerous weapons on school premises after threatening a another student with a pellet gun at school. In a separate incident at a neighboring school, a tip led Waukesha police to investigate whether another student had a gun. A day later, a violent altercation involving a weapon occurred at an Oshkosh high school between a student and a resource officer.
Law enforcement and schools take any real or perceived threat of violence in schools seriously and students who commit or threaten violence can face serious consequences. When juveniles do, in fact, commit weapons offenses, it may be handled in the juvenile court system, where the goal is to counsel and support rather than to punish young offenders, however, a juvenile can be charged as an adult for a weapons violation if the crime is of significance. If, for example, a teen has a criminal record, is carrying a weapon while committing a violent crime, or if the teen brings a firearm to school or uses it in a threatening manner, the case may be referred to adult court where convictions carry harsh sentences.
Students who engage in threats, heartfelt or tongue in cheek, against a school or other students, often via social media, can also be looking at serious consequences even if they do not possess a weapon and never intended to carry out the threat. A FBI website entitled “Think Before You Post: Hoax Threats are Serious Federal Crimes” provides a warning to students that making a hoax threat against a school is a serious federal crime. One thoughtless remark on social media can lead to felony charges resulting in kids starting out adulthood on the wrong foot. Even if a student escapes charges at the state or federal level after an investigation, some may be expelled or sanctioned from school indefinitely for even making a joke that hints at violence on social media or among friends. In a “see something say, something environment,” both real and perceived threats invite serious consequences for youth.
If your teen has been charged with a crime involving a violence or a threat of violence against their school or other students, regardless of their intentions, it is important to seek help of an experienced juvenile law and criminal defense attorney. Contact Waukesha juvenile defense lawyer Andrew C. Ladd LLC for immediate assistance today at 262-542-3900.