False Report of Terrorism: What You Need To Know

False Report of Terrorism

We have now reached the point where – as horrible as school shootings are – there are those who treat it as a joke, or make light of becoming the “next school shooter.”

Mainly teenaged boys.

Why would someone jeopardize their future in order to do something like this? At the best, it was a terrible joke, but is it really worth it?

Part of the answer is in an article published in USA Today. When you read between the lines of an article in the New York Times, you see it more clearly.

Since the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, part of which was televised, today’s teenagers have been born into world where this type of violence is televised. Part of the problem may be due to the media coverage.

They have not lived in a world without school shootings. Columbine wasn’t the first school shooting, nor was it the worst. But it shocked the world.

Today’s teenagers have grown up in a world that is no longer shocked when school shootings happen. Instead, here’s what USA Today reports happens:

“When schools are placed on lockdown based on an active shooter alert (which many times is a false alarm), cable news channels immediately inform their viewers of the danger, and word is tweeted and retweeted to millions, most of whom have no direct connection to the event.”

This is the reality teens expect from school shootings. A bunch of media hype, some activity on social media, and a world which basically goes back to normal.

A Joke With Serious Consequences

Maybe this is why Clinton Township resident, 18-year-old Jacob M. Graham posted a picture of himself holding a rented AR-15 on Instagram with the caption “next school shooter” and thought it was a joke.

Now Graham is making national news and possibly looking at 20 years in prison for that joke.

And just maybe, law enforcement is on high alert after a reported 20 threats in Macomb County alone since the February 14th attack in Parkland, Florida.

False Report of Terrorism Consequences

For any Michigan resident who is contemplating making this kind of joke, here is what you could be charged with. This is what Mr. Graham is facing, along with a count of misuse of a communication device:

Making terrorist threat or false report of terrorism; intent or capability as defense prohibited; violation as felony; penalty.

According to Michigan Penal Code Section 750.543m:

  1. A person is guilty of making a terrorist threat or of making a false report of terrorism if the person does either of the following:
    • Threatens to commit an act of terrorism and communicates the threat to any other person.
    • Knowingly makes a false report of an act of terrorism and communicates the false report to any other person, knowing the report is false.
  2. It is not a defense to a prosecution under this section that the defendant did not have the intent or capability of committing the act of terrorism.
  3. A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years or a fine of not more than $20,000.00, or both.


If you are a teen facing bullying, heartbreak, the loss of a loved one or anything that makes you want to make a threatening joke on social media – or even something that could be construed as a threatening joke – don’t throw your life away.

If you have a loved one who is facing terrorism charges for something he or she posted on social media, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today.