Earlier this year, a Tyler man made headlines after he falsely reported on Facebook that he tested positive for COVID-19 at a Tyler hospital. It was the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and law enforcement, medical workers and emergency management responded to the claim. He later told police that he did it as a “social experiment.”
Making a false alarm or report is a crime in Texas. We often see this type of offense at schools when a student pulls a fire alarm as a prank or calls in a false bomb threat to get out of taking a test. Most of the time, the students don’t understand the gravity of the situation and how it can negatively impact their future. Here’s a look at the law and potential consequences for making a false alarm or report in Texas.
What is making a false alarm or report in Texas?
According to 42.06 of the Texas Penal Code, this offense is committed if a person knowingly initiates, communicates or circulates a report of a present, past or future bombing, fire, offense or other emergency that he or she knows is false or baseless and that would ordinarily:
(1) cause action by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies;
(2) place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or
(3) prevents or interrupt the occupation of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, or aircraft, automobile or other mode of conveyance.
What is the punishment for making a false report or alarm?
The severity of the punishment for making a false report or alarm depends on where the false alarm is reported to have occurred, not the location of the actor. If the false report involves a public or private institution of higher education or involves a public primary or secondary school, public communications, public transportation, public water, gas or power supply or other public service, the offense is a state jail felony, punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine.
If the alarm or false report involves any other location, it is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
For example, pulling a fire alarm in a high school or calling in a false bomb threat at a university would be punished as a state jail felony.
Defending against charges of a false alarm in Fort Worth
If you have been arrested for a making a false alarm or report in Fort Worth, the charges can range from a misdemeanor to felony – both of which can leave you with a criminal record and negatively impact your family, finances and future. That’s why it’s important to contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. Our team of skilled attorneys have extensive experience handling every type of offense in Texas and can help you overcome this obstacle in your life. We have a record of exceptional results and will work tirelessly to achieve the most favorable outcome possible. Call today for a free consultation with an attorney at Varghese Summersett.