Man Faces Federal Charges for Possession of a Pipe Bomb

A Marissa, IL, man is facing federal charges for constructing a destructive device (a pipe bomb). According to police, the man intended to use the pipe bomb to blow up his former wife’s vehicle. He admitted to lighting the device and throwing it at people who confronted him inside his trailer park in April. The device, however, failed to detonate. A second suspicious device was also located inside his trailer. 

Possession of an unregistered destructive device is a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison. 

Possession of an Unregistered Destructive Device

The ATF defines a “destructive device” as:

The term “destructive device” means * * * (2) any type of weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter, except a shotgun or shotgun shell which the Secretary or his delegate finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes; . . .”

According to the article, the man intended to use the device to blow up his ex-wife’s vehicle. However, an altercation ensued with people near his home, and he attempted to solve the problem by lighting the device and throwing it at them. In this case, it doesn’t matter that the device didn’t go off. Had it, he would be facing battery or murder charges, depending on how bad the situation got. Instead, he is facing a 10-year sentence for possessing and constructing a “destructive device” as defined by the federal government. 

The rules closely mirror those of federal firearm offenses and the unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. While the definition of a pipe bomb does not necessarily fit perfectly with the text of the law, a pipe bomb is meant to eject projectiles, and it has a barrel. So, the definition of a destructive device under 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3) fits a pipe bomb. 

How Can You Defend Against These Charges?

The defendant could claim that he constructed a fake pipe bomb to scare people away from him, but at this point, the police are alleging that he constructed the bomb to cause harm to his ex-wife’s vehicle. There is no reason for the police to believe that he constructed a fake pipe bomb for the purpose of scaring people. If so, however, that could be grounds to negotiate a plea. But it would trigger questions related to terrorism since his intent was to scare others. At this point, the defendant is simply lucky that the device did not go off. He will face a maximum 10-year sentence as opposed to facing several counts of murder and aggravated battery, both Class-X felonies under Illinois law.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

David Freidberg represents the interests of those charged with federal crimes. Call our office today at (312) 560-7100, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately. 


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