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Is it a crime to joke about a bomb threat?

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Bomb threats are some of the most terrifying things anyone can experience. An explosive can cause both extensive property damage and injuries, and that’s not counting the panic and hysteria that a bomb threat can cause.

This is why the authorities take all bomb threats seriously, whether genuine or imagined. When a bomb threat is issued, local police departments mobilize to find the explosive. Evacuating everyone from the area to find and defuse a bomb costs taxpayers money and revenue for affected businesses.

Because bomb threats cost much money to resolve, joking about one is a serious criminal offense per Virginia law. Whether a teen comes up with a bomb threat joke to avoid taking an exam or an adult decides to play a cruel bomb threat prank at a large gathering, fake bomb threats can lead to fines and prison time.

The law on bomb threats

According to state law, anyone who makes a bomb threat – whether real or fake – commits a criminal offense. The law also prohibits issuing bomb threats to things other than buildings. A person still breaks the law if they communicate a bomb threat targeting an assembly of people or any mode of transportation.

The offense is a Class 5 felony. If the offender is under 15, they’re instead charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Penalties for bomb threats

If a person over 15 is convicted of making a bomb threat, they face up to 10 years of prison time and as much as $2,500 in fines. Meanwhile, a person under 15 instead faces confinement in jail for up to 12 months and a possible $2,500 fine on conviction.

Bomb threats, real or fake, are no laughing matter. Any threat made is treated as if lives are on the line, and they cost a lot of money. Even a young teenager cracking a joke about an explosive in school can face criminal charges.


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