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Section 947.014 of the Wisconsin Statutes criminalizes swatting

Prior to Section 947.014 of the Wisconsin Statutes, swatting was not a crime in Wisconsin.  While some of then actions that lead to a swatting situation have always been illegal, only recently did the actual term get its own law.  Specifically, 2019 Wisconsin Act 132, effective March 5, 2020 codified swatting law.  Swatting has the potential to lead to additional charges, such as unlawful use of a telephone, unlawful use of a computerized communication system, and homicide.  Swatting is a felony.  Associated charges can add additional felony exposure.

The criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office have always been recognized as some of the best in Wisconsin.  We remain dedicated to defending individuals facing any kind of criminal allegation.  Certainly that includes swatting charges.  If your case includes the additional charges we listed above, our high-power law firm would like to speak with you.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 and let’s discuss your swatting charges.

Section 947.014 of the Wisconsin Statutes

The law says:

(2) Whoever, knowing the information is false, intentionally conveys, or causes to be conveyed, any false information that an emergency exists is guilty of a Class I felony if the information elicits, or could elicit, a response from a specialized tactical team.
(3) Whoever violates sub. (2) is guilty of a Class H felony if the violation resulted in bodily harm to any person or a Class E felony if the violation resulted in great bodily harm to any person.
Firstly, a Class I felony carries a maximum penalty of 3.5 years in prison, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.
Secondly, a Class H felony carries a maximum penalty of 6 years in prison, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.

Finally, a Class E felony carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, $50,000.00 in fines, or both.

Certainly these are both incredibly serious penalties, and both versions of this offense carry the potential of time in prison.  Importantly, the only difference between the three offenses involves harm done.  The Class I felony scenario involves no bodily harm.  Secondly, the Class H felony scenario involves bodily harm.  And finally, the Class E felony scenario involves great bodily harm.  Importantly, the law does not describe who must suffer harm – so it can include the swatting victim, family members/roommates of the swatting victim, law enforcement personnel, or anyone else.

Swatting jury instructions

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1919 describes swatting.  Specifically, the elements of this offense are:

  • Firstly, the defendant intentionally conveyed or caused to be conveyed the existence of an emergency; and
  • Secondly, the information was false; and
  • Thirdly, the defendant knew that the information was false.  This requires only that the defendant believed that the information was fake; and
  • Finally, the information elicited, or could have elicited, a response from a specialized tactical team.

The instructions also provide various helpful definitions:

  1. Specialized tactical team means a special weapons and tactics team or tactical response team that is designated by a law enforcement agency and whose members are recruited, selected, trained, equipped, and assigned to resolve critical incidents that involve a threat to public safety.

What’s an emergency?  This is certainly important, as the jury instruction relies on the term.  Section 947.014(1)(b) defines emergency:

1. A condition that results in or could result in the response of a law enforcement officer, tribal law enforcement officer, state-certified commission warden, fire fighter, emergency medical responder, or emergency medical services practitioner in an authorized emergency vehicle, aircraft, or vessel.
2. A condition that jeopardizes or could jeopardize public safety and results in or could result in the evacuation of any area, building, structure, or vehicle.
Two police squads respond to an emergency
Swatting, prohibited by 947.014 of the Wisconsin Statutes, is a serious felony charge. Contact some of the best criminal defense attorneys in Wisconsin regarding this or any other criminal charge. (414) 270-0202

How to defend against a swatting charge:

One of the main tactics employed during a swatting attack is that the reporter attempts to obscure his identity when making the tip.  This might involve basic tactics such as voice changes.  But on a more technical end frequently includes VOIP services and virtual private networks.  Frequently police will pursue records from your internet service providing, telephone provider, and social media sources in connection to a swatting case.  As criminal defense attorneys we frequently analyze these documents and their validity.  If there is a basis, we file pre-trial motions challenging these subpoenas, warrants, or the materials retrieved in pursuit of them.

Secondly, it’s important to remember that maintain the right for a jury trial.  While some criminal defense lawyers are afraid to defend you through trial, every criminal defense lawyer at Van Severen Law Office is a trial veteran.  We’ve defended individuals sitting in the very seat you find yourself.  We’re certainly not afraid to defend you at trial, and instead look forward to the opportunity to fight the case in the way our team feels is most appropriate.

Finally, we have to remember that all criminal cases are different.  All swatting cases are certainly even different.  This page is to help provide you general information regarding a swatting criminal charge.  At your free initial consultation we can nail down further details and figure out the best way to fight for you.

Contact Van Severen Law Office for 947.014 representation

Swatting is a relatively new crime, codified in 2020.  It’s the culmination of technology, online gaming, the ability to communicate internationally, and opportunity.  Unfortunately, what some individuals saw as a prank quickly turned dangerous.  And the government quickly responded.

Your choice of representation might also revolve around the generational differences between criminal defense attorneys.  The 70 year old criminal defense attorney who defended your father simply didn’t grow up with online video games.  New technology including VPNs hadn’t even been thought about when that attorney graduated law school.  But at the criminal defense lawyers at Van Severen Law Office all grew up as these technologies moved mainstream.  We understand them.

And importantly, we understand what a felony conviction will do to your life.  We recognize that the media may be involved in your case, and we understand the embarrassment that may attach to that.  We’ve focused on winning your case and want to help you.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202.  Let’s schedule a free consultation and start fighting your case.

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