Many threats are considered to be crimes. In New Jersey and elsewhere, it is acknowledged that words alone don’t carry the same weight as physical violence. At the same time, people are not entitled to make verbal or written threats that result in others living in fear. While the Constitution protects free speech through the First Amendment, that speech is no longer protected when it infringes on the rights of other people.
Although there are many different types of threats, terroristic ones are viewed very seriously. There are laws in place that make terroristic threats a crime.
It’s natural to believe that any threat that is considered terroristic in nature would have to be one that is extremely evil. There are many threats that have previously been voiced that have been connected to mass shootings, explosions and other tragic events. However, in reality, the terroristic threat statute applies to more than just mere speech. It encompasses a deeper range of behavior and is not what anyone would consider a harmless or ordinary threat.
If the term “terroristic threat” is used against someone who is merely talking out of anger, it can damage that person’s reputation. It has social implications, can prevent prospective job or educational opportunities and much more. As a result, if you are arrested and charged with making terroristic threats, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can represent you to the best of their abilities.
Terroristic Threats in New Jersey
Unfortunately, terroristic threats involve crimes that are only increasing in New Jersey. It is a crime that is quickly becoming one of the most common for people to allegedly commit as well. If a person has made terroristic threats and then subsequently commits a violent crime against another person or multiple people with the intention of terrorizing them or causes a building or public transport to be evacuated, they can be arrested and charged with making terroristic threats. It’s also possible for someone to be charged with this crime if they threaten to kill another person and that person believes they intend to carry out the threat.
Examples of Terroristic Threats
Terroristic threats are typically broadly defined in the law. In New Jersey, there are certain actions that can constitute a person as making terroristic threats. They include the following:
• Words in speech or writing or actions that instill an immediate feeling of serious fear of bodily injury in another person
• Threatening behavior that leads to law enforcement officials or any other emergency personnel to be called in to respond
• Causing another person to intensely fear for their immediate safety
Since 9/11, things have changed surrounding terroristic threats. The state takes such threats very seriously, which means what you say can result in your arrest and being charged with making terroristic threats.
Penalties for Terroristic Threats in New Jersey
In New Jersey and other states, terroristic threats are charged as misdemeanor crimes. In most cases, the crimes are classified as either third or second degree misdemeanors. As a result, there are certain penalties you can expect if you charged with terroristic threats and ultimately convicted of the crime. They include the following:
• If you are convicted of third degree terroristic threats, you can receive three to five years of prison time and a fine up to $75,000.
• A conviction of second degree terroristic threats is given if the crime occurs during a state, county or national emergency and can result in five to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Sometimes, terroristic threats can be elevated to felony charges. The following can result in a person being charged with a felony terroristic threats charge:
• Threats that involve a group of people to fear for their safety and well-being
• Threats involving bombs
• Threats to public transit or utility service
• Threats made on a public servant, elected official or government office
If you have been charged with terroristic threats in New Jersey, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows the state and federal laws. They can build a strong defense in your case that can help.