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It is unavoidable that teens in Fairfax will make mistakes. However, the level of mistakes are important in determining the consequences and whether or not there will be a long-term problem as a result of them. Emotions can run hot in a teenager and that frequently leads to threats, both verbally and physically, whether the teen intends to carry them out or not.

State law says that a threat is defined as a written communication that one person will either bodily injure or kill another person or a relative of that person. If there is the reasonable fear of injury or death, it is illegal. A written threat can lead to Class 6 felony charges. If there is a conviction on a Class 6 felony, there can be a minimum of one year in jail and up to five years in jail. If the penalty is limited to one year, then there can also be a fine of up to $2,500. A written threat that is made on school property, at an event sponsored by the school or on a school bus is also a Class 6 felony even if the target of the threat never received it.

If the threat is expressing an intent to commit an act of terrorism, it will be a Class 5 felony. A person who verbally threatens to injure or kill an employee of the school on school property, at an event sponsored by the school or on a school bus will be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. With a conviction on these charges, the person will face prison time for up to one year as well as a fine of up to $2,500.

Because teens are yet to fully mature, this level of juvenile crime can arrive from simply saying something that they had no intention of carrying out. In other circumstances, the teen might actually have the ability and the intention of following through on their threats. If there has been a threat made and a teen has been charged, it is important that a strong defense is initiated. With any allegations involving school violence, it is imperative to have help from an attorney experienced in assisting teens with these types of charges.

Source: virginiarules.com, "Threats/Verbal/Physical," accessed on Dec. 28, 2015

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