Penal Code Section 148.1

Penal Code Section 148.1 – False Bomb Reports

PENAL CODE SECTION 148.1(a) & (b) – FALSE BOMB REPORT TO PEACE OFFICER OR DESIGNATED INDIVIDUAL

Pursuant to Penal Code Sections 148.1(a) & (b), the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant reported that a bomb or explosive device will be placed in a public or private place;
  2. The defendant made the report to a peace officer, fireman, newspaper employee, District Attorney or other person specifically designated under the statute. AND
  3. The Defendant knew that the report was false.

Punishment for Section 148.1(a) & (b) violations:

Any person convicted under Section 1481.(a) or (b) shall be punished by:

  • A misdmeanor and up to one year in a county jail,
  • Felony Probtion and a county jail sentence of up to 365 days;
  • Felony Jail Sentence  (prison sentence served in a county jail) of 16 months, 2 years or 3 years.

PENAL CODE SECTION 148.1(c) VIOLATIONS – FALSE BOMB THREAT TO ANOTHER PERSON

The prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The Defendant “maliciously” informed another person that a bomb or other explosive has been, or will be placed in any public or private place; AND
  2. The Defendant “knew” that the information was false.

The term “malicious” means to vex, annoy or injure another person, or an intent to do a wrongful act.2

“Knowingly” imports only a knowledge that the facts exist which bring the act within the provisions of the statute.  It does not require any knowledge of the unlawfulness of the act.3

Punishment for Section 148.1(c) Violations:

A person found guilty of a Section 148.1(c) violation may be punished in the following manner:

  • A misdmeanor and up to one year in a county jail,
  • Felony Probtion and a county jail sentence of up to 365 days;
  • Felony Jail Sentence  (prison sentence served in a county jail) of 16 months, 2 years or 3 years.

PENAL CODE SECTION 148.1(d) – SENDING OR PLANTING FALSE BOMB

Pursuant to Section 148.1(d), the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant (gave / mailed / sent / caused to be sent) a false bomb to another person, or the Defendant placed or posssed a false bomb; AND
  2. The defendant had the intent to cause another person to fear for his or her physical safety or the safety of others

Punishment for Section 148.1(d) Violations:

  • A misdmeanor and up to one year in a county jail,
  • Felony Probtion and a county jail sentence of up to 365 days;
  • Felony Jail Sentence  (prison sentence served in a county jail) of 16 months, 2 years or 3 years.

COMMENTARY:

In a post-9/11 world, any bomb threat will be taken extremely seriously.   You can expect law enforcement to move quickly and aggressively against any suspected wrongdoer.

Notice that when the false report is made to a peace officer, airline employee or other person designated under Section 148(a) or (b), the defendant must only report that a bomb has been placed or secreted – nothing more.4 The fact that the defendant was “joking” or being sarcastic does not provide constitutional protection under the statute. California courts reason that police officers, airline employees (and those individuals designated in Sections (a) and (b)) should not have to speculate whether the person making the bomb threat intended that it be taken seriously or as a joke.5   

If the person makes a report of a bomb to a neighbor or any person not covered under Section 148.1(a) or (b), the prosecution must prove that they acted “maliciously” under Section 148.1(c).

SOURCES CITED / NOTES:

1 The full reading of the statute includes the following individuals: Any peace officer listed in Section 830.1, 830.2, 830.33(a), Chapter Title 3, Part 2, Chapter 4.5; or any employee of a fire department, fire service, district attorney, newspaper, radio station, television station, District Attorney, Department of Justice, airline, airport, railroad, busline, telehone company; or any occupant of a newspaper or television station building.

2 Penal Code Section 7(4).

3 Penal Code Section 7(5)

4 Levin v. United Airlines (2008) 158 Cal.App.4th 1002, 1021.

5 Levin v. United Airlines (2008) 158 Cal.App.4th 1002, 1023.

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