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Scary things happen all the time. On any given day, a trip to your local department store can turn into a situation where someone threatens the store with a bomb. That’s truly frightening.

It’s not a made-up scenario, either. Morehead City’s Walmart experienced a bomb threat recently that cleared the store. No one was injured, but still, these kinds of threats carry serious consequences — even if a bomb is never actually involved.

Learn more about the criminal charges North Carolina residents can face for making serious threats to the safety of the public and the consequences that can result from a conviction.

What Qualifies as a Bomb Threat?

In North Carolina, any message or action that is used to create fear in a group of people or in a person, such as a bomb threat, is considered an offense against public peace. 

Threats can be made by email, mail, phone, television, radio, on public transportation, news stations, government officials, building occupants, and other individuals. And North Carolina law says all bomb threats are treated the same whether they turn out to be true or not.

The laws in states when it comes to offenses of the public peace vary, but in North Carolina, it’s clear. There are two separate charges that can be filed against someone who threatens to use a bomb: communication of threats and mass violence on educational property. 

Communication of Threats

When threats are made against facilities (with the exception of schools), then the charge that can result is communicating threats. Under the law in North Carolina, this is a Class 1 misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to four months in jail and fines that are left up to the discretion of the judge in the case.

If found guilty, an offender can expect fines to cover the resources that law enforcement had to use in order to contain the threat such as evacuation, bomb squads, and police presence at the scene of the threat. 

Essentially, the fines involved with bomb threats can be quite high. You’ll find neither bomb threat-related charge is taken lightly, however, and the consequences for the second type of charge are far worse.

Mass Violence on Educational Property

If a bomb threat is made against an educational facility or at an education-related school activity, then it becomes a more specific charge of making a false report concerning mass violence at a school.

In North Carolina, this is charged as a Class H felony, which is punishable by up to 25 months in prison as well as the fines mentioned above.

If you are someone feeling like it’s time to make a big statement, and these consequences aren’t enough of a deterrent, there’s one more thing to consider that just may. 

Remember that there are also federal laws governing bomb threats, and in North Carolina, you can be charged twice for the same incident — once by the state, and once at the federal level. 

When a Bomb Threat Can Result in Federal Charges

According to federal law, anyone who makes a bomb threat willfully and intentionally, or conveys false information maliciously in order to injury, destroy property, or kill another with the use of explosive devices, can face some very harsh penalties far worse than the state laws.

Any person who has made a bomb threat that is reasonably believed can face up to five years in federal prison and fines. If the bomb threat is accompanied by serious bodily injury to another person or persons, then the penalty jumps up to 20 years.

Bomb Threat Defense Attorneys

As you can see, threatening to use a bomb is not just a threat in the eyes of the law. The police, both state and federal, will ensure that a person making these threats is punished to the fullest extent. If you have been charged for making a bomb threat, your best bet is to seek professional legal advice from a North Carolina criminal defense attorney who has experience both with state and federal cases.

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