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Is your refrigerator running? Then you better call a lawyer!

Most of us have made a prank phone call at least once as kids. Television shows have even been made that are dedicated to prank calls. In Michigan, however, these calls are no laughing matter. Recent legislation was introduced that would make it a felony for someone to call police and falsely report a medical or other type of emergency.

Some people are already aware that falsely reporting a crime is against the law. The proposed bills would extend the reach of the current bill. The hope is that the legislation will impose serious penalties for people who are charged with "swatting," or using electronic means to fake a 911 call in the hopes of attracting SWAT teams and a large-scale response.

A person convicted of swatting can be facing serious consequences. Calls that require responses from medical or other emergency responders cost a lot of money and involve several sources. A fake call requesting real response is a misuse of those resources. In addition to other penalties, a person convicted of swatting will have to reimburse local government for the services that were used.

The proposed bills are in response to a situation when a teenage boy made a prank call to the police reporting gunmen in his home. The SWAT team responded to a house where no such event took place. While no one got hurt in the event, residents and the family were put at risk.

The bill has not officially been passed, but the fact is that people are starting to take misuse of local resources very seriously. People may think they are making an innocent prank call, but the consequences are very real and should be handled quickly and effectively.

Source: mlive.com, "Michigan bills fight "swatting," a prank of falsely reporting emergencies," Melissa Anders, April 26, 2012

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