A terroristic threat sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? I think it’s the word “terrorist” that really seems to amp up the fear factor. So most people who are charged with crime are shocked to hear it. But the truth is, a terroristic threat can be lots of things and it doesn’t mean you are a terrorist.
Here’s the statute:
(a) A person commits an offense if he threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to:
(1) cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies;
(2) place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
(3) prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place;
(4) cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service;
(5) place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or
(6) influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.
If you read into that statute there’s a lot of behavior covered there. Any time a person is in fear of imminent serious bodily injury based on something you said, you can be charged with a terroristic threat, even if it was some drunken threat that you never intended to follow through on.
Terroristic threat starts as a Class B misdemeanor, but can amp up to a State Jail Felony if your threat is directed at a Judge. Sections 4-6 deal with activities that most of us actually would consider “terroristic”, and these sections lead to a 3rd degree felony. In my opinion, these charges should be separated to avoid confusion, and also to avoid needlessly giving defendants a heart attack when they see their charge.
If you or a loved one is charged with a terroristic threat, don’t panic but do call a lawyer. Rob Chesnutt is available at 512-677-5003 to answer questions about your case.