Appeals court upholds threat conviction

The Washington State Court of Appeals recently affirmed a 13-year-old Oak Harbor boy’s conviction in a case involving an alleged threat against a school in 2018.

Following a bench trial last year, a judge found the boy guilty of harassment — threats to kill, which is a felony charge.

He was sentenced to three days of detention, 100 hours of community service and a year of community supervision.

According to a court document, a girl at North Whidbey Middle School was walking to class when she overheard the boy tell his friends that he was getting a gun and planned on shooting up the school.

The girl said she thought it was a joke until about a week later when the boy sent her an image on Snapchat of himself holding what appeared to be a handgun, with the caption “look what I got,” court documents state.

Snapchat is a cell phone messaging app.

The boy’s father later told police that it was a BB gun.

The boy admitted to sending the image but said he never made the threat to shoot up the school, according to court documents.

Attorneys representing the boy appealed the conviction, arguing that the judge lacked sufficient evidence to find him guilty of felony harassment or, in the alternative, that the court failed to prove he communicated a “true threat” as required under the First Amendment.

The Appeals Court found that the boy’s overheard comment, together with the photograph he sent to the other student, would constitute a knowing threat by a reasonable trier of fact.

Since the state law governing the crime of harassment criminalizes speech, the appellate court must conduct an independent and “exceedingly cautious” review of the record to determine if the boy’s speech was constitutionally protected.

The appeals court concluded that the boy’s words and action constituted a “true threat” under the law, which is not protected speech.

More in News

Village by the Sea gains creative district designation

Langley has officially been designated the fourth “creative district” by the Washington… Continue reading

Accidental blaze burns bedroom in Oak Harbor residence Friday

Nobody was injured and a fire in a bedroom was quickly contained… Continue reading

Langley names new finance director, clerk

During the Langley city council meeting on Monday, Mayor Tim Callison announced… Continue reading

IRS issues warning about Coronavirus-related scams

The Internal Revenue Service is urging taxpayers to be on the lookout… Continue reading

Whidbey Island clinics try new ways of treating patients

During times when telecommuting and teleconferencing are seemingly the new norm, it’s… Continue reading

Langley council to meet, virtually

The upcoming city council meeting for the Village by the Sea will… Continue reading

Langley votes to defer utility payment late fees

The city of Langley has decided to extend the suspension of late… Continue reading

Nonprofit redirecting grant funds to relief

A Langley nonprofit dedicated to economic and community development has decided to… Continue reading

Washington scrambles to boost supply of life-saving protective items for healthcare workers

By Cameron Sheppard WNPA News Service Millions of N-95 masks and other… Continue reading

Most Read