While North Carolina may not have the busiest rail network in all of America, the state still sees decent train traffic. Whether moving freight or passengers, North Carolina maintains a busy rail corridor connecting to the rest of the eastern U.S.
For young or mischievous people, throwing stones at a passing train in the state might sound like a great prank. After all, who’ll get hurt when everyone’s inside a giant steel cocoon?
However, the act is a criminal offense in North Carolina. It carries very steep penalties, and offenders may also be on the hook for other related charges.
Casting stones and shooting at trains is illegal
Under North Carolina law, it’s illegal for any person to willfully throw or shoot any stone, bullet or similar other missiles at any train, locomotive or railroad car, whether the locomotive is moving from one station to another or has stopped for any reason. The law also prohibits hitting any person riding on a train.
The offense is a Class I felony; on conviction, a person faces up to 25 months in prison.
Pranksters may face other criminal charges
Those who break the law by throwing stones at a train may also face charges for related offenses. For instance, officials could charge the pranksters with trespassing on a railroad right-of-way if they enter and remain on the right-of-way without the rail operator’s consent. This is a Class 3 misdemeanor charge, which leads to up to 20 days in jail and a $200 fine.
A stunt like throwing stones at a train engine could also lead to a criminal charge for unlawful impairment of the operation of railroads if the prank forces the locomotive to stop. This charge is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which carries up to 60 days of jail time and a maximum $1,000 fine.
Throwing stones at a train or passengers is incredibly dangerous, which is why it’s a crime. Even if a person threw small rocks without meaning any harm, they can still face charges. Such a prank is a felony on the same level as breaking into buildings or larceny, so anyone facing charges should consider the possible consequences they’ll face on conviction.