Can I go to jail for a bomb threat joke?

We are all living in complicated, dangerous times these days. Regardless of your political views or social positions, acts of terror can reach into homes and businesses and instill fear, even in those not physically affected. Because terrorism focuses on generating fear, the laws that govern responses to terrorism and terroristic threats do not always focus solely on the actions taken or threatened.

Further complicating this issue is the fact that terroristic threats are often difficult to define before they occur. As a result, a person who does not actually intend to commit an act of terrorism may find himself or herself facing criminal charges anyway.

For instance, if a young person in college chooses to fake a bomb threat to avoid taking a test he or she did not study for, this may backfire spectacularly. Depending on the details of the threat and any associated actions, what one party may consider a joke or "boys will be boys" behavior, another may consider a threat of terrorism. This may carry very serious legal penalties that could dismantle a very bright future before it has an opportunity to flourish.

Fear is always personal, even if a specific act isn't. Especially in our current social and political climate, when parties on all sides are waiting for any opportunity to claim outrage, it is always wise to protect yourself against unfair allegations.

If you face accusations of terroristic threats, you should seek strong legal counsel as soon as possible. Your future may depend on how you respond to these allegations, so it would be very unwise to take them lightly. It is wise to let an experienced attorney who is familiar with defending those accused of terroristic threats build a strong defense to protect your rights and freedoms.

Source: Findlaw, "Terrorism and Terroristic Threats," accessed Nov. 09, 2017

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