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Ocean County Student Charged With Making A Terroristic Threats in Lakewood

The school shooting in Parkland, FL this past Valentine’s Day has spurred on a troubling series of terroristic threats made against schools in New Jersey.  One such threat occurred in Lakewood earlier this week.  Specifically, a Lakewood High School student, while in a business law class at the school, sent the Lakewood Police Department an email that made references to “blowing up” or “shooting up” Lakewood High School, and the middle school across the street from the high school.  

Officials responded quickly by first locking down the two schools.  Then, the police investigation resulted in, within minutes, the identification of the suspect.  It turns out that the suspected Lakewood High School student sent the email, but tried to implicate another person by using the other unwitting student’s credentials in the email.  

The student was arrested as a result of the email.  The Ocean County student is just one of 17 students throughout the Garden State who have made similar school threats.  In fact, according to the Acting Essex County Prosecutor, shooting threats typically spike for up to 30 days after a mass shooting.  To give an example of some of the threats that have been charged since Valentine’s Day, here are some cases:

  • Two New Brunswick Middle School students, ages 12 and 14, falsely claimed to have guns in their backpacks.
  • Two students from the private Nutley Abundant Life Academy, ages 13 and 14, made a threat against the school.
  • A 12-year-old middle school student in Vineland threatened to bring a gun to school and start shooting.
  • An 18-year-old Eastern Regional High School student in Vorhees threatened to “shoot up the school.”
  • A 15-year-old threatened on social media to commit a shooting at West Deptford High School, even though he did not attend the school.
  • A 14-year old in Somerset County was accused of threatening a shooting at Franklin Township High School, and a 17-year-old was caught with a 9mm pistol in his backpack at the school.

The charges that appear to be most common from these incidents are terroristic threats and creating a false alarm.Terroristic Threats and Creating a False AlarmThe crime of making terroristic threats makes it illegal to make a threat of violence with the purpose of terrorizing, or made with reckless disregard of the risk that people would be put in fear.  Specifically, New Jersey statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3, which is titled "Terroristic Threats", provides as follows:

  1. A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he threatens to commit any crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize another or to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation, or otherwise to cause serious public inconvenience, or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience.  A violation of this subsection is a crime of the second degree if it occurs during a declared period of national, State or county emergency[.]  
  1. A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he threatens to kill another with the purpose to put him in imminent fear of death under circumstances reasonably causing the victim to believe the immediacy of the threat and the likelihood that it will be carried out.

With regard to penalties for making a terroristic threat, the students discussed above likely don’t understand how serious the consequences could be.  A third-degree crime carries a penalty of 3 to 5 years in prison. 

The crime of creating a false public alarm makes it illegal to make a false report that a disastrous event will occur such as bombing, fire, or shooting, knowing that the report is false and will result in the evacuation of a building, facility, or other public place.  Specifically, the statute at N.J.S.A. 2C:33-3 provides as follows:

[A] person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he initiates or circulates a report or warning of an impending fire, explosion, crime, catastrophe, emergency, or any other incident knowing that the report or warning is false or baseless and that it is likely to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transport, or to cause public inconvenience or alarm.

As with terroristic threats a third-degree false public alarm charge could result in 3 to 5 years in prison.  

While the 17 students who were charged throughout the State with making threats likely have various motivations, from playing a prank to manifesting serious mental issues, the consequences are very serious.  Hopefully, the students who made a stupid mistake or demonstrated a lapse in judgment will not be defined by the criminal charges they face.

Our Ocean County Criminal Lawyers Have The Skills To Defend Your Terroristic Threat ChargeWhether a juvenile offense is the result of a prank or a more serious issue, the offense of terroristic threats and false public alarms could lead to incarceration.  Accordingly, families of the students should immediately obtain representation from an attorney who is fully equipped to protect their future. The Ocean County criminal lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have over a century of combined experience handling all types of criminal cases, including threats and false alarm charges.  Call us at 732-286-6500 today so we can schedule a free consultation with a lawyer on our staff.  Here at the Marshall Firm we have a reputation for dedication to our clients and success in the courtroom.  Call today to speak to one of our attorneys now.  

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