Making terrorist threats is a relatively recently new offense at state and federal levels, having come to the forefront only after the attacks on 9/11/2001. As a law it’s rather general, and it can be used not only to prosecute terrorists but against other offenders such as those who commit domestic violence or make bomb threats. Although exact definitions differ, generally a terrorist threat is made if a person threatens to commit violent crimes solely to cause panic or terrorize an individual.
The Components of Terrorist Threats
The common definition of a criminal or terrorist threat has five main elements, which are discussed below.
* Willful threat: The subject must willfully threaten to commit an offense that will result in bodily harm or death. Threats can be made electronically, verbally or in writing.
* Specific intent: A threat must be made with intent to be perceived in that manner. If one threatens to blow up an airport, they are guilty regardless of whether they have the means to accomplish the goal.
* Specificity: The threat must be specific, unequivocal and unconditional, conveying the prospect of immediate execution.
* Incites fear: The threat must cause fear in intended victims, and it must be believable.
* Reasonability of fear: If a person threatens to blow up the Capitol Building with a UFO, it’s unlikely that the threat will be taken seriously.
Do All Jurisdictions Have Terrorist Threat Laws?
All jurisdictions have some form of the terrorist threat law. They vary from one place to another, and it’s important to consult a local criminal attorney who is familiar with jurisdictional law. The federal government has its own statutes, which are narrower than those of most states. Therefore, defendants who hire a criminal lawyer in Montgomery County can be charged and penalized by both state and federal government entities for the same offense.
Should a Person Call an Attorney?
In the years after 9/11, something as seemingly minor as calling in bomb threats to get out of taking a test can land one in prison for decades. This crime is taken very seriously at both state and federal levels. If one is charged with making a terrorist threat, they should visit Legalphilly.com to speak to a criminal lawyer in Montgomery County to discuss their legal options.