A “swatting” bill signed into law by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Monday carries a stiff fine and significant prison sentence.
Swatting is a colloquialism used to describe the act of reporting a false alarm that generates a substantial emergency deployment, typically including the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).
The new law upgrades swatting from a third degree to second degree crime, carrying a 5 to 10 year prison term and a fine of up to $150,000, or both.
The law also carries a possible civil penalty of $2,000 or the the actual costs incurred by law enforcement and emergency services that respond to the false alarm.
“Emergency responders must and do respond to every potential threat to public safety,” said Asm. Jack Ciattarelli R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer, and Middlesex, one of the sponsors of the bipartisan legislation. “They arrive at the scene prepared for any situation. Swatting calls are occurring far too often and are a threat to public safety. Upgrading the penalties sends a message of the seriousness of the offense and that such hoaxes have serious consequences.”