What is a Terroristic Threat?
Texas Penal Code Section 22.07 defines the offense of terroristic threat as a threat to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with specific intent. This is generally a Class B misdemeanor in Texas, but it can also be filed as a felony.
The Intent Requirement for Terroristic Threat in Texas
A terroristic threat has to be made with the intent for one of the following:
- cause an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies to respond;
- cause any person to fear imminent serious bodily injury;
- prevent or interrupts the occupation of a public place, including a place of employment or occupation, place of assembly, place of aircraft or automobile;
- cause the impairment or interruption of public services, including communications, public transportation, water, gas, or power supply;
- place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or
- influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.
Terroristic Threats in the News
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.
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.
- Carrolton police arrested a woman after she released Snapchat videos claiming to be positive for COVID-19 and threatening to spread the virus. The videos depict the woman recording herself inside a Walmart and saying she is “about to infest every (expletive).”
- Fort Worth police arrested a man who allegedly coughed on people at a laundromat, and spat in one woman’s face, after claiming to have tested positive for COVID-19.
- And Grapevine police arrested a man who ran up to a patrol officer sitting in his marked police car and allegedly coughed in the officer’s face while claiming to be infected with the coronavirus.
In all cases, the threats appeared to be unfounded.
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 has 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.
What is 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.
What is the Punishment for Making a Terroristic Threat in Texas?
The penalties for making a terroristic threat can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the classification of the threat.
Felony Terroristic Threat
It is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine if the defendant:
- caused impairment or interruption of public communication, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public place.
- placed the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury.
- influenced the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state or a political subdivision of the state.
Misdemeanor Terroristic Threat
It is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine if the defendant:
- prevented or interrupted 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 public places.
- However, it can be elevated to state jail felony punishable by up to 180 days to two years in a state jail facility if the defendant caused a pecuniary loss of $1,5000 or more to the owner of the building, room, place or conveyance.
It is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine if the defendant:
- caused a reaction to any type by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.
- placed any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
- However, it can be elevated to a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail if committed against a public servant or against a member of the person’s family or household or otherwise constitutes family violence.
Terrorist Threat Charges in Fort Worth
If you have been charged with making a terrorist threat, you must 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.