False School Threats Carry Major Criminal Penalties

The shooting at Oxford High School is certainly inspiring these threats we’ve seen across the state but it can also be the reason students are hit with a stricter punishment.

“Kids need to understand that the things that they’re saying are not funny,” said David Barberi, Isabella County prosecutor, “They’re not jokes and it’s not a time to try to be humorous about things like this.”Threat Charges Vsv 12 6 2100 00 28 09still001

The threats last week have been popping up across the state including in Isabella County, Mt. Pleasant High School closed last week for a threat, following the shootings at Oxford High School.

“I think the reality is kids are just not utilizing all of their brain cells at this point,” said Barberi, “They think they’re being funny, they think they’re trying to get their classmates out of a day of school but it doesn’t matter. We’re still going to look at it like he can be a very real threat.”

Barberi said his office will only get involved if the school deems the threat to be credible or disruptive.

Following Oxford, that decision may come easier than before.

“I don’t think anyone wants to have that Monday Morning Quarterback review of their decision not to charge in a case like that,” said Barberi.

When his office is involved, it’s not just a suspension.

“A false threat of terrorism can carry a 20 year felony so these are not a joking matter,” said Barberi.

And no longer will your age protect you, with a topic this serious.

“It can certainly change how it gets carried out,” said Barberi, “Whether it’s an adult criminal system or the juvenile criminal system but the penalties are still the same.”

Barberi said once you get to that point, it is too late so the first defense is at home.

“I would certainly encourage parents to tell the kids that these things are not funny,” said Barberi, “You may be screwing around but it’s a very serious matter.”

With Oxford, you are seeing what role parents could possibly play and following last week law enforcement will not be playing around.

“If it comes down to it and I need to be the one teaching these kids a lesson,” said Barberi, “I’m willing to do that.”