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What's the Penalty for Mailing Explosives?

You can never be too careful, even when you're opening mail that's been delivered to your home. Right now, it appears that the threat of receiving a bomb in the mail is limited to Austin, Texas. The latest explosion occurred at a FedEx facility near San Antonio, Texas, but it's believed that the package was bound for Austin. In addition to the explosion, a second package that contained an explosive device was found by authorities, but it hadn't exploded.

This month, there have been four other explosions that have occurred in Austin, which are all being investigated as the work of a serial bomber. Three of the explosives were inside packages that were delivered to homes in Austin, while the fourth was triggered by two bicyclists riding through an Austin neighborhood. Considering that even making a bomb threat can have serious consequences, you may wonder what the penalty is for actually mailing explosives. Here's a quick look at some of the possible penalties.

Serious Consequences for a Serious Crime

Mailing explosives is in violation of several laws. Under federal law governing explosives, it's illegal to "transport, ship, or cause to be transported...any explosive materials" by anyone who isn't licensed or permitted to do so. Violating this statute can result in fines and/or up to 10 years in prison. Keep in mind that these penalties are just for mailing explosives. Additional charges and possible penalties can result if the explosives that are mailed cause injury or death.

Mailing explosives through the United States Postal Service (USPS) is also illegal through a separate statute. While mailing prohibited items can result in fines and/or up to a year of imprisonment, if the prohibited items are mailed with the intent to injure or kill another person, the penalty increases to a prison term not exceeding 20 years. Finally, if a person is convicted under this statute and there was a death as a result of mailing prohibited items, the offender can receive life in prison or the death penalty.

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