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Terroristic Threats

When most people hear the phrase “terroristic threats” they may imagine scenarios involving groups of criminals planning to commit large acts of violence. In reality, the legal system defines these kinds of threats as any violent action or statement intended to provoke fear, panic or disorder.

What Are Terroristic Threats?

To be more specific, these threats can be thought of as an escalation over more basic threats. This means that the goal of the threat is to achieve a heightened reaction. An example would be a death threat against a public official.

Of course, if such a threat is made, a large-scale reaction by the police may occur in order to prevent any attempt on the official’s life. Whether or not the person making the threat meant to cause a large police reaction, that person may still be charged in accordance with the effects of their threat.

Possible Punishments

Depending on the circumstances of a particular case, the legal punishments for making threats can range from a simple misdemeanor conviction up to felony penalties. For example, making a threat of serious bodily harm to an individual may be charged as a misdemeanor offense but making a threat against a public official may be prosecuted as a felony. Some possible punishments:

If anyone was injured or any property was damaged as a result of the threat, the penalties can increase significantly.

Legal Defenses

Many defenses for this charge are based on the intent of the person who allegedly issued the threat. Specifically, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged guilty person not only made the threat, but that the threat was intended to provoke a certain reaction.

The defense may be able to argue that no evidence exists to prove the defendant’s intent and that any reaction to the threat was the fault of the person who perceived the threat. This places the burden of proof squarely on the prosecution.

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