In Massachusetts just like in other states, there's nothing funny or entertaining about issuing a fake bomb threat to law enforcement, or starting a panic within a public place. While some people believe that bomb threats are nothing more than an extravagant prank, the truth is that they do a lot of damage, and as such can lead to very serious repercussions.
In the past, students have been known to make fake bomb threats in an attempt to avoid responsibilities like exams and tests, and others have used these threats to hide additional nefarious purposes. However, whatever the reason, making bomb threats is regarded to be a very serious crime, with the potential of leading to heavy criminal penalties.
After all, threats in a public place, whether at the mall, school, or work, whether they are a hoax or not, will cause real panic. As a result, it is not uncommon for perpetrators to face very serious legal consequences - regardless of whether their threats are carried out, attempted, or a complete hoax.
In Massachusetts, bomb threats are covered by Section 14 of Chapter 269 of the Massachusetts General Laws.
Bomb Threat Examples
In Massachusetts, many bomb threats are simply hoaxes, but unfortunately that doesn't make them any less disruptive or worrisome. Because there are a few bomb threats in our history that have not been fakes, serious vigilance must always be maintained when a threat is made - regardless of whether it is believed to be legitimate or not.
Upon the receipt of a bomb threat, the institution involved will need to notify law enforcement, which will also lead to communication with a number of other agencies, depending on where the threat is made, and how credible it might be. Once the call has been made, each agency will be forced to expend a considerable number of man hours on determining whether there is a true threat present, by sweeping the area for explosive devices.
In the past, people convicted of making bomb threats have attempted to mask their identities when carrying out the threat, such as using anonymous email addresses, or simply printing threats from publicly accessible printers or computers. However, the truth is that only a small fraction of these cases will find that the measures taken are enough to avoid detection by the very well-equipped government agencies responsible for investigating such crimes. When an attempt to evade detection is present, additional charges can also be used against the individual in question.
Bomb Threat Punishment
In Massachusetts, the penalties are as follows:
- For those who make bomb threats even if they are false but cause evacuation, disruption of schools, public transportation, or any kind of serious public inconvenience are liable - imprisonment in a state prison for 3 to 20 years or in a house of correction for 6 months to 2.5 years or fine of $1,000 to $50,000, or both fine and imprisonment.
Sometimes, it's fair to note that the criminal penalties that are given for a bomb threat, or when someone attempts to make what is seen as a terrorist threat as part of a hoax that leads to no damage to property or people can be somewhat small, such as a year of imprisonment in county jail. However, in other instances, particularly when the matter is charged under federal law, the punishments can easily become extremely severe. Indeed, individuals who threaten to use a biological toxin to kill other people can receive as much as life imprisonment, and the law provides for up to five years in prison for the mailing of communications that contain threats that might indicate a desire to injure the addressee. Indeed, it is even possible to be punished with several years in prison if you are found guilty of lying to law enforcement officials about terrorist hoaxes.
If you are charged at a federal level, then you should expect to face charges that are somehow related to terrorism. Almost all of the crimes involved with hoaxes and bomb threats in Massachusetts will include some financial penalties or fines alongside the prison time that is given. Sometimes these fines can be given in an attempt to help pay back some of the expense that is associated with investigating the hoax threat in the first place.
Bomb Threat Defenses
As with almost any crime, it is possible to find defenses that might allow you to avoid a more serious penalty in a case of bomb threat crime. Facing a terrorist threat or bomb threat accusation can be one of the toughest challenges a person faces, particularly because of the seriousness with which we regard terrorism attempts today.
It is not necessarily uncommon for overzealous law enforcement officers to accidentally investigate or arrest the wrong person. What's more, harmless messages, emails, or remarks can sometimes be misunderstood as a threat when no actual intention was present for a threat to be given.
Perhaps the most common defenses that are used in bomb threat cases are:
- lack of evidence that suggests the person alleged was involved with the crime in the first place
- freedom of speech defense
- defense of mistaken identity which suggests that although a bomb threat may have been issued, it had nothing to do with the person accused and arrested.
What to Do If You Have Been Charged
The best thing you can do in this situation is to speak to an attorney in depth about the situation surrounding your particular circumstances. You need to do this as early as possible to make sure that you don't commit any more mistakes.
Boston Massachusetts Bomb Threat Attorney
Take fast action, preferably before any charges are filed. Get the best defense possible in Boston Massachusetts and throughout the Northeast region. Contact the law office of Attorney Geoffrey G. Nathan, in Boston, MA. Contact him now for your free consultation. Call toll free, at 877-472-5775.