A new phone app called “Yik Yak” has become extremely popular among teens over the last several months. The app was originally created and meant for college-age students as a virtual campus bulletin board. It is a location-based app, which allows people to interact, “anonymously” with those around them. Although meant for college-age students and adults, younger kids, in middle school and high school can download the app fairly easily. This has become a new, increasingly serious problem as the app has been used for cyber-bullying and threats. Creators of the app say whenever a threat is posted to the site, it immediately begins working with law enforcement agencies in the area to track down the suspect.
The attraction for teens to this app is that it is “anonymous” and therefore, teens feel safe in posting whatever they want without the fear of being found out, or caught. But, in this situation, it is not truly anonymous. Anything you post on line can be traced and, according to the police agencies, the police can find out who you are, will find out who you are and will arrest you.
A recent bomb scare at San Clemente High School, in Orange County California, was a result of a Yik Yak posted threat. It forced the school to shut down and required the bomb squad and bomb-sniffing dogs to be deployed to the school. The school was later safely cleared but police are still actively pursuing the person who made the threat. If police are able to trace the threat to the responsible person, that person will face felony criminal and/or terrorist threats.
There have been other similar threats. Recently at 19-year-old student at Indiana State was arrested for posting a shooting threat on Yik Yak. And in Long Island, a 15 year old who posted a threat on Yik Yak, threatening to blow up the school and shoot fellow students, was arrested and charged with felony terrorist threats.
As we know, young people make bad decisions. What may have started out as a joke to see what would happen has turned into a very serious situation, resulting in arrests and possible convictions of serious felonies. These young individuals will need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense lawyer, who has experience in handling these types of charges, as well as handling cases involving teens and young adults, is key to providing the best legal representation possible. Understanding how the mind of a teen and/or young adult works will aid in their defense. An aggressive lawyer will work hard at helping the prosecution, probation and Judge, understand the full picture of the individual and not just focus on the “crime”.
Being arrested and charged with a crime is serious for anyone, but it feels especially serious when it is a minor or young adult. Because teens and young adults are still naive and immature, they do things without thinking and end up making mistakes that can and may, follow them around for the rest of their lives. A good criminal defense lawyer should be focused on mitigating the consequences so that a momentary lapse in judgment does not damage the possibility of a bright future.