On Monday March 11, 17-year-old Benjamin Malachino was arrested and charged with terrorism after allegedly making threats to students at Comstock Park and Kenowa Hills High Schools. Malachino, who is a junior at Comstock Park High School, reportedly made the threats against students at the schools via text message.
Kent County Sheriff’s Office investigators said in news reports at Fox 17 that the threats were made specifically against three students, and that the texts included death threats and a threat of sexual assault against one young woman.
The incidents were revealed when on of the alleged victims, who said she was “truly scared,” was urged by a relative to report the threats to a school counselor. According to police Malachino threatened a female student via text, saying he was going to lock down the school and kill several students, and sexually assault her. The Sheriff’s Department reported that the suspect did include names of those he intended to kill.
Some of the students at Comstock Park High School said they were surprised to hear what Malachino had been accused of, and that he was a “nice kid” who seemed a bit quirky.
Malachino is currently being held at the Kent County Jail on a felony charge of making terrorist threats; his bond was set at $500,000. Fox 17 news reports state that should he be released on bond, he is barred from contacting the school or the alleged victims. If convicted, Malachino may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
Penalties for terrorist threatening vary across different states; this is an offense that may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. Michigan criminal defense attorneys understand that there are some common elements that must be present for a threat to be considered criminal, including specificity (for example, when an individual specifically threatens death or serious injury). Depending on the seriousness of the threat, the state where the offense allegedly occurred and other factors, individuals may face 40 or more years in prison, fines, restitution and probation.
Teens often do things without having any idea of the consequences they may face. If you have been accused of terrorism or any serious criminal offense, it is crucial that you consult with a seasoned Michigan criminal defense lawyer now.