After the threat: How officials charge juveniles who make criminal threats

After the threat: How officials charge juveniles who make criminal threats
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - After an adolescent makes a threat and is arrested, their case is put under strict review.

When a threat to a elementary, middle or high school happens it's taken seriously by all forms of law enforcement across the Panhandle.

When a threat is made to a school in Amarillo, Amarillo Police Department sends officers to check out the situation.

Related: Travis Middle School student arrested after threat on social media

A juvenile will be taken into custody when officers can prove a credible threat has been made.

"The threat doesn't have to be something where they follow through with it, it has to be something where they meant to cause a disruption. If this threat was meant to cause a disruption, and we can prove that, then we find that is enough for detention," said Amarillo Police Corporal Jeb Hilton.

After the adolescent is detained, their incident is put under review.

From there, the case faces many hurdles before being resolved.

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Potter County Attorney Scott Brumley said prosecutors look at what charges can be filed.

"There's a range of potential offenses that may be involved. It might be a class A misdemeanor. On the other hand, in some circumstances, for instance, a terrorist threat can be a third degree felony. Sometimes false reports involving a school can be a jail felony," said Brumley.

After charges are filed, Brumley said the incident goes through adjudication.

"In a juvenile case, it's whether the child engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision," said Brumley.

Once a decision is made, the juvenile can receive a wide array of punishments.

Punishments include being placed in a center outside their home for treatment or probation.

In serious cases, the adolescent can even be charged as an adult.

Brumley wants young kids to remember, their juvenile record can affect their future.

"That record, while not accessible to the public, is accessible to prosecutors," said Brumley. "So if they get in trouble in the future, under the right circumstances, that juvenile adjudication can be used to enhance punishment in any future criminal offense."

Officials say their work is focused on getting individuals back on the proper path.

"Neither juvenile probation nor our office placed them under that microscope, their own conduct did that. We're hoping to help that child get past whatever it is that drove them to engage in that behavior," said Brumley.

When an adolescent is on probation or serving any other punishment, anything positive is embraced.

Officials want each child to know that any mistake can be corrected with the appropriate action.

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