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What Happens If You Make a School Bomb Threat?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

School bomb threats can cause real panic even if the threat is a hoax, and the perpetrators can face real legal consequences.

A bomb scare suspect at Harvard University, 20-year-old student Eldo Kim, found that out the hard way when the FBI arrested him Monday after setting the entire college campus on alert, reports Boston Magazine.

Like many others who have made school bomb threats, Kim could face serious punishment if convicted.

Bomb Threat Received Just Before Exam

According to an FBI affidavit, Kim used an anonymous email address to send email to a handful of Harvard University officials stating that "shrapnel bombs" had been placed in several locations throughout the campus. He had allegedly done so to avoid an exam that Monday morning.

Federal authorities arrested Kim under the federal law dealing with hoaxes, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. In addition to the criminal charges, Kim will also likely face expulsion from Harvard.

The Harvard Administrative Board will likely review Kim's case and decide what kind of action to take. Although in cases as serious as this, the school is likely to recommend that Kim be dismissed or expelled from Harvard.

Most colleges would react similarly, and students who manage to escape without any criminal penalties may still have a permanently tarnished academic record.

What About Threats in High Schools?

Regardless of whether a student is in a high school, middle school, or elementary school, even minors can face serious legal consequences for making bomb threats.

Kim may have gotten off somewhat easy. Federal officials can charge anyone who calls or emails in a bomb threat under a different federal bomb threat statute, one that calls for up to 10 years in prison.

In some states, a conviction under a state or federal charge for making a school bomb threat can also:

And children under 18 are not immune from criminal punishment. Most states allow juveniles to be tried as adults for serious crimes, depending on the discretion of the prosecutor and/or judge.

If you or your child is suspected of making a school bomb threat, you'll want to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.

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