Several people in North Texas have been arrested recently on charges of making a terroristic threat after claiming they have coronavirus and threatening to spread it.
In all cases, the threats appeared to be unfounded.
When lawmakers were crafting the statute making a terrorist threat an offense, they likely never envisioned that it would be applied to a pandemic. Still, this is the world in which we live today.
If you or a loved one is facing a charge of making a terroristic threat in Fort Worth or the surrounding cities, it’s urgent that you contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. Not only can this charge carry stiff penalties, but it also carries with it a stigma that can jeopardize your personal and professional reputation. We can help. Our team of attorneys have decades of experience handling high-profile, high-stakes criminal cases and will work tirelessly to achieve a favorable outcome. Call today for a free consultation with a Fort Worth terroristic threat lawyer.
In short, terroristic threats in Texas include any threat involving violence to people or property that is meant to cause fear, impair public affairs, or influence governmental activities.
Texas Penal Code Section 22.07 outlines the offense of terroristic threat. It basically states that a person commits terroristic threat if he or she threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to:
(1) cause an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies to respond;
(2) cause any person to fear imminent serious bodily injury;
(3) prevent or interrupts the occupation of a public places, including a place of employment or occupation, place of assembly, place of aircraft or automobile;
(4) cause the impairment or interruption of public services, including communications, public transportation, water, gas, or power supply;
(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.
When most people think of terroristic threats, they envision threats of mass shootings, bombings or other acts of domestic terrorism. As you can see from above, terroristic threats can involve less sinister statements.
For example, we routinely see people charged with making a terroristic threat after being accused of making a threat that causes another person to be in fear of imminent serious bodily injury – notice the word “imminent.” Threats such as “I will f— you up next time I see you,” may not be deemed imminent. Similarly, a threat such as, “I am going to slap you,” will likely not be considered terroristic threat because a slap is not likely to cause serious bodily injury.
“Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
The penalties for making a terroristic threat can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the classification of the threat.
It is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine if the defendant:
It is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine if the defendant:
It a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine if the defendant:
If you have been charged with making a terrorist threat, it’s vital to talk to a skilled Fort Worth terroristic threat attorney. Time is of the essence. We will listen to the facts and circumstances and discuss ways to challenge and defend the charges. Sometimes there is a fine line between making a terroristic threat and freedom of speech. Call today to maximize your chances of achieving favorable results.