In a shocking turn of events, an 18-year-old high school girl's father reported his daughter to the authorities after discovering a detailed plan to commit a mass school shooting. Not only was a detailed plan discovered, a shotgun as well as other materials needed to make dangerous explosives were found.
Upon learning of the threat, the high-schooler was immediately pulled out of class and admitted into a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. Law enforcement obtained arrest warrants in order to immediately arrest the teen upon her release from the hospital. The teen's diary and plan reveal that mental health may be an issue.
While simply planning a crime may not necessarily be a criminal act, taking any actions in furtherance of a criminal plan will likely trigger criminal laws on attempt. In the case of school shootings, the acts of gathering supplies, or even simply collecting security data, is likely sufficient evidence to show an intent to carry out the crime.
As one report explained, everything that the 18-year-old high schooler had was legally obtained, and legal to own. Even though no bombs or other explosive devices had been made, when the materials to make pipe bombs are discovered next to plans to attack a school, authorities are likely justified in believing that there is more than just an idle fantasy on paper.
Criminal Acts and Mental Health
When a person suffering from a mental health disorder commits a crime, there may be issues with prosecuting the case. As an initial matter, apart from the legal defenses and delays, a prosecutor may not be able to satisfy the intent requirements if a defendant is suffering from a mental health issue.
Even though a person may be suffering from a mental health issue, that will not automatically provide them with a free pass or the proverbial 'get out of jail free' card. In fact, a criminal defendant with a mental health problem could end up stuck in the system for years before they are ever even tried for their crime.