The Legal Ramifications of a Bomb Threat

Crime, News

Threats at work or school cause real panic — hoax or not. As a result, perpetrators can face real legal consequences. Whether their threats are carried out, simply attempted before being stopped, or a hoax, those who send a building of people into chaos will face criminal charges.

A bomb scare suspect at Harvard University, 20-year-old student Eldo Kim, found that out the hard way when the FBI arrested him  after setting the entire college campus on alert. According to the FBI, Kim used an anonymous email address to send a message to several Harvard University officials stating that “shrapnel bombs” had been placed in several locations throughout the campus.

Why, you ask? Well, because Kim was allegedly hoping to avoid an upcoming exam.

Federal authorities arrested Kim under federal law dealing with hoaxes, which means he could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison. As for Harvard? Yeah, he’ll probably be expelled.

Where a “Harmless” Bomb or Shooting Hoax Could Land You

Criminal charges or not, any student playing such a prank will end up with a permanently tarnished academic record. And youngsters aren’t exempt: kids under 18 can still be tried as an adult in most states, depending on the seriousness of the crime and the judge’s discretion. Youngsters playing pranks could face juvenile detention or other penalties. Parents should make children aware of the ramifications of such pranks or actual threats.

Kim may have gotten off somewhat easy. Federal officials can charge anyone who calls or emails in a bomb threat under a different federal bomb threat statute than the one Kim was charged under. The other calls for up to 10 years in prison.

In some states, a conviction under a state or federal charge for making a school bomb threat can also:

Bomb threats obviously don’t just happen at school. In 2012, a 24-year-old man was charged with making terroristic threats (a felony) after paying someone $50 to make a bomb threat phone call the man’s workplace. Through investigations of phone call records, social networking pages and related contact information, as well as verification of driver’s license records and addresses, police found the number used to call in the threat was at the residence of Gooden, who was an employee at the store that received the threat.

Terroristic threats aren’t funny. Explain the consequences to kids, and talk about more constructive ways of dealing with school or workplace frustrations than resorting to making threats (joking or not). If you or your child is suspected of making a bomb or shooting threat, you’ll want to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.