The Legal Repercussions Behind a False Bomb Threat

March 6, 2022 Criminal Defense, Juvenile Offenses

Unfortunately, most students have experienced a false bomb threat at some point during middle school or high school. Although these threats may start as a harmless prank that the writer believes no one will take seriously, they are no laughing matter and can land you in serious legal trouble.

Florida Law

Section 790.163 of the Florida Statutes details the legal penalties that follow making a false report concerning a bomb, and explosive, a weapon of mass destruction, or firearms in a violent manner. Specifically, the statute states:

It is unlawful for any person to make a false report, with intent to deceive, mislead, or otherwise misinform any person, concerning the placing or planting of any bomb, dynamite, other deadly explosive, or weapon of mass destruction, or concerning the use of firearms in a violent manner against a person or persons.

Under Section 790.166 of the Florida Statutes, a “weapon of mass destruction” includes the following:

  • Any device or object that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any human or animal, or severe emotional or mental harm to any human, through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors;
  • Any device or object involving a biological agent;
  • Any device or object that is designed or intended to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human or animal life; or
  • Any biological agent, toxin, vector, or delivery system.

A person who violates Section 790.163 commits a second-degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison, fifteen years’ probation, and a $10,000 fine. It is also important to note that adjudication of guilt or imposition of a sentence for a violation of this section may not be suspended, deferred, or withheld. This means that anyone charged can face a permanent felony conviction on their record. It also means that the court will not allow you to defer or suspend your sentence by allowing you to serve probation instead of serving time in prison. However, the state attorney may move the sentencing court to reduce or suspend the sentence of any person who is convicted of a violation of this section and who provides substantial assistance in the identification, arrest, or conviction of any of his or her accomplices, accessories, coconspirators, or principals.

Furthermore, if law enforcement had to respond to the false threat, a person convicted of a violation of this section may be required by the court to pay restitution for all of the costs and damages arising from the threat. Why is this? Because law enforcement has to take every threat seriously, often resulting in a bomb squad being called in to search the location. Not only is this costly, but it is also highly disruptive to other students and can cause absentee rates in schools to soar. A false bomb threat is also a federal crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844, which, if convicted, can result in a punishment of imprisonment up to 10 years.

What Does the Prosecutor Have to Prove?

The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:

  • You made a false report regarding the planting of a bomb, dynamite, deadly explosive, or weapon of mass destruction;
  • You knew this report was false; and
  • You made the false report with the intent to deceive, mislead, or misinform another person.

If the prosecutor can prove these three things, they have enough evidence to convict you. However, a lack of evidence in proving one of these may play a key role in whether or not you are convicted. For example, if there is insufficient evidence to show that you are the one who made the false report, meaning, you have not confessed to doing it, there are no eyewitnesses, and no video footage showing that it was you – then insufficient evidence may act as a possible defense in your case.

Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with making a false bomb threat, it is of the utmost importance that you contact a qualified Tallahassee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have decades of experience defending Floridians against all kinds of criminal charges and will fight zealously on your behalf while ensuring every applicable defense is explored. Give us a call at (850) 681 -7777 or send an online message to discuss your legal matter during an open and free consultation with an attorney in our legal team.

Written by Sarah Kamide

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