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Fake school threats could have serious consequences, experts warn

A recent string of threats at local schools highlights the potential legal ramifications of hoaxes.

HOUSTON — Multiple threats have been made against Houston area schools in just a matter of days.

Emergency dispatch audio from Tuesday's threat at Heights High School shed light on the information officers received.

"Second floor, room 213...an English classroom, 10 students were shot," can be heard clearly in the recording.

Despite the specific threat, the call was determined to be a hoax.

RELATED: Houston Heights High School: Active shooter hoax revealed through new audio

Still, the potential consequences are very real, according to KHOU 11 legal analyst Carmen Roe.

“In Texas criminal law, there's no such thing as a prank or a joke. This is a third-degree felony terroristic threat that carries with it a possible range of punishment of a minimum of two years in prison up to a maximum of 10 years in prison," Roe said.

Another threat was made on Thursday at Klein Forest High School. Criminal charges have been filed against the student who made a bomb threat at the school.

RELATED: Klein Forest High student expelled after bomb threat made against campus

“As a juvenile, you can be certified as an adult to face serious felony charges. And then, of course, if you're 17 or older you're going to face a felony charge here in our criminal courts," Roe said.

The ramifications of being convicted of a felony can go way beyond jail time, according to Roe.

“Limitations on jobs, scholarships, enrollment in universities, as well as a myriad of other things that impact you when you have a criminal history," she said.

Houston attorney Andy Drumheller says the ramifications of a fake threat can extend well beyond the person who made them.

“It's incredibly expensive to any family that's going to be involved in the process of supporting their child through defending an allegation like this. And it's an incredible waste of valuable first responder resources," says Drumheller, a founding partner of the Drumheller Hollingsworth & Monthy law firm.

RELATED: School safety threats triggered thousands of absences in Texas last year

And with the frequency of this recent trend, Drumheller says it’s generally a matter of time before legislators notice.

“People are going to make offenses like this more serious to create a greater deterrent effect," says Drumheller.

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