Destructive devices that appeared to be pipe bombs were recently sent to CNN headquarters, as well as the homes of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and billionaire investor George Soros, as reported by CNN. All of the bombs were intercepted before they were opened by the intended recipients, and no one was hurt. Mail bombs are rare; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigates 16 mail bombs on average per year, out of over 170 billion pieces of mail sent each year, according to CNN. However, the implications for someone charged with sending a destructive device through the mail are serious.
Organized Crime Control Act of 1970
Under the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, anyone who, by means of using the mail, transports or receives, or attempts to transport or receive an explosive device knowing that it is intended to kill, injure, or intimidate anyone, or damage or destroy a building, vehicle, or other real property, has violated the law and will be sent to federal prison for up to 10 years. If any victims suffer bodily injury, including a law enforcement officer tasked with controlling or disarming the explosive device, the prison term can be increased to up to 20 years. If death occurs, the prison sentence can be any length, including life in prison, or the death penalty. Under the Act:
- Any malicious threat made by mail or wire to kill, injure, or intimidate another person by means of an explosion or fire is punishable by up to 10 years in prison;
- Anyone who damages, destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy any property owned or leased by the U.S. government by means of an explosion or fire shall be punished with a minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison. Any injuries caused as a result of this violation results in a minimum sentence of seven years, and a maximum sentence of 40 years. If death occurs, the mandatory minimum is 20 years, and the maximum is life imprisonment;
- Possession of an explosive device at the airport is punishable by up to five years in prison.
- Theft of an explosive device from a licensed distributor is punishable by up to 10 years in prison; and
- Moving or transporting a destructive device that the defendant knows will be used to commit a crime of violence or drug trafficking is punishable by 10 years in prison, and 20 years for a second offense.
There are many more federal laws governing explosive devices, fires, and threats. Most violations result in many years behind bars if the defendant forgoes hiring experienced criminal defense.
An Experienced Federal Crimes Attorney Can Help
If you have been charged with any federal or state crimes involving explosive devices, threats using explosive devices, or even hoax threats, you need to contact a lawyer at once. The Philadelphia criminal defense team of van der Veen, O’Neill, Hartshorn, and Levin are here to begin working on your case today.