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Clowning Around on Social Media Can Lead to Criminal Charges

It's no secret that today's teens spend a lot of their time interacting on social media. To many, it can feel like they are in their own world, even if part of them understands that much of what they post online can be seen, and even taken seriously, by the general public. Recently, one Minnesota girl seemingly took things too far when she impersonated a scary clown online and attempted to spook her boyfriend. Unfortunately, the threats she made as the clown character reached far beyond her immediate social circle, and many people were far from amused. Now, the 15-year-old girl is facing frightening circumstances of her own-criminal charges.

Threats on Social Media Can Be Taken Seriously

The Twin Cities teen was doing what many others across the country were doing, issuing "scary clown" threats, when she took on the online persona of "Kroaky Clown." The threats specifically targeted the suburban communities of Hopkins, Bloomington, Apple Valley, Rochester, Richfield, Brooklyn Park and Plymouth, as well as Minneapolis and St.Paul. After her arrest law enforcement said the girl claimed the matter got out of hand when it went viral.

Some may think that unless you actually do something to physically harm someone, it isn't a crime. It is important for people of all ages-including teens-to understand that bringing fear and anxiety to others via threats may be considered criminal activity. If deemed to be terroristic threats, the person accused of making them may face serious criminal consequences.

Learning from the Arrest

If you're a parent of a teen who is active on social media, it is important to remind them that although it seems like people share almost everything online, it is not a "free for all," and there is no such thing as absolute anonymity, especially if someone is being hurt or threatened. Discussing how teens use their social media accounts can also help identify times when they feel threatened themselves. In the meantime, if you-or your child-have been accused of going too far and issuing terroristic threats, a good criminal defense attorney can help you understand your options.

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