Lehigh Valley

When to press charges against students linked to threats

Local district attorneys say school threats are nothing new but say there is a heightened sense of alertness after the recent mass shooting in Florida that killed 17 people.

69 News asked Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli and Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin what it takes to get a student charged for making school threats.

"When someone says they're going to shoot up the school, most of them are juveniles. Terroristic threats is a misdemeanor of the first degree, brought in juvenile court," Morganelli said.

"The goals of the juvenile system are different than the goals of the adult system. The juvenile system is for rehabilitating the juvenile," Martin said.

The DA's say because most threats are just that, threats.

"You're not ever going to get jail time as a juvenile unless you've committed a major felony," Martin said.

That could include bringing a weapon into school or calling in a threat that results in a building evacuation.

Law enforcement says even though most cases are dealt within the juvenile system, it doesn't mean kids are getting off easy.

The DA's say having a criminal record can affect things like college acceptances and job prospects.

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