PA 17-72—sSB 26

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING SWATTING

SUMMARY: This act expands the crime of falsely reporting an incident in the first degree, which is a class D felony (see Table on Penalties), to include making such a report with the intent to cause a “large scale emergency response” (i.e., “swatting”). Under the act, the court may order individuals convicted of swatting that resulted in a large scale response to make financial restitution to the state and local departments and agencies that provided the emergency response. The court must order the restitution under terms it deems appropriate if any of the responding agencies or departments request restitution and the court finds that they incurred costs associated with the response.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

FALSELY REPORTING AN INCIDENT AND SWATTING

Under existing law, a person is guilty of falsely reporting an incident in the first degree when, knowing the information is false or baseless, he or she:

1. initiates or circulates a false report or warning of an alleged occurrence or impending occurrence of a fire, explosion, catastrophe, or emergency under circumstances in which it is likely to alarm or inconvenience the public or

2. reports, by word or action, to any official or quasi-official agency or organization that handles emergencies involving danger to life or property, an alleged occurrence or impending occurrence of a fire, explosion, or other catastrophe, or emergency that did not occur or does not exist.

The act additionally prohibits any of the above actions that are done with the intent to cause a large scale emergency response. (This is commonly known as swatting.)

Under the act, (1) a “large scale emergency response” is an on-site response by five or more first responders to a falsely reported incident and (2) “first responders” include peace officers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, emergency medical responders, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics.

RESTITUTION

Any restitution the court orders under the act must be based on easily ascertainable damages for actual expenses related to the emergency response. When determining appropriate restitution terms, the court must consider:

1. the offender's financial resources and the burden restitution will place on his or her other obligations;

2. the offender's ability to pay based on installments or other conditions;

3. the rehabilitative effect the restitution payment will have on the offender;

4. the payment method; and

5. other circumstances, including the financial burden and impact on the department or agency, that make the restitution terms appropriate.

The act requires the court to record its findings regarding each of the above factors. It permits the court to forgo setting restitution terms if it cannot determine appropriate terms based on the offender's current financial resources or ability to pay based on installments or other conditions.

Under the act, any restitution the court orders must be imposed or directed by a written court order containing the amount of actual expenses the court determined were associated with the response. The order must direct the delivery of a certified copy by certified mail to the agency or department. The act specifies that these restitution orders are enforceable in the same manner as other restitution orders under existing law.