California senators pass 'swatting' bill increasing fines for prank callers

Gay To Straight

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

State Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance introduced the bill that would increase punishment for so-called "swatting' crimes.

The California State Senate voted unanimously Thursday to pass a bill that hikes the fines a person would have to pay for making a false 9-1-1 call.

Introduced by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, the bill is a response to the "swatting" phenomenon in recent months in L.A. in which prank callers falsely reported crimes taking place at celebrity homes in order to bring out a large police response.

Under the bill, those callers could bear the full cost of an emergency response.

RELATED: Read the full bill (SB 333)

L.A. County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore says that can run upwards of $10,000.

"It's a significant amount of money, but let's not forget something: this is not a harmless prank. This is a costly and potentially dangerous criminal act of deception," he said. 

The penalty would apply to anyone arrested and found guilty of the crime. And Whitmore says if they're underage, "their parents are held responsible. End of story."

The hoax has targeted celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Anderson Cooper and even Sen. Ted Lieu himself. 

Now that it's passed the Senate, the bill heads to the Assembly.

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