State bill would increase penalties for 'swatting' calls

Gay To Straight

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

A bill introduced by State Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, to increase penalties for 'swatting' calls has passed the state Assembly.

People who make fake 911 calls would be subject to paying the costs of mobilizing emergency responders under a bill that is close to passing the state Legislature.

The Assembly on Monday approved SB333 by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), which would add a fine of up to $10,000 to cover the costs of the emergency mobilization.

RELATED: Read the full bill (SB 333)

Under current law, the misdemeanor penalty for making a false 911 call is $1,000 and up to a year in county jail. The crime becomes a felony if someone is injured.

The problem has been especially acute in the Los Angeles area, where fake 911 calls to the homes of celebrities have become common. The practice is referred to as "swatting" because SWAT units sometimes have to be called.

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

The bill returns to the Senate for concurrence before being sent to the governor.

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