What In The World Does It Mean?
Terroristic Threats in NJ are more common than you might think
A Common Example
What’s an example of a terroristic threat in NJ?
You are driving to work, and another person cuts you off in traffic. You pull up next to him at the stoplight, roll down your window, and ask him what is wrong with him.
He replies, “you wanna fight about it?”
Did he threaten you? Is his behavior illegal?
Your neighbor allows his dog to use your front lawn as a toilet. You confront him and start arguing. Both of you start calling the other one names. Then you threaten to punch him if he does not stop his dog from doing his business on your lawn. Did you commit a crime?
Your ex-girlfriend sends you a text. Your new girlfriend sees the text. She goes on social media and posts derogatory messages about your ex. A week later, your girlfriend finds out she has been charged with terroristic threats. Is she guilty?
Every day people have disagreements with other people. Sometimes these disagreements became heated. In today’s world, especially with the growth of social media, more and more people are charged with making terroristic threats in NJ.
What is a terroristic threat?
A terroristic threat in NJ can fall into one of the following:
(1) You threatened somebody.
(2) You threatened to commit a violent act.
(3) You threatened to commit a violent act to;
- terrorize the other person, or cause the evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation, or otherwise cause serious public inconvenience,
- Or that you acted with reckless disregard to terrorize the other person, or cause such inconvenience.
(4) Or that you threatened to kill another person in such a way that the other person reasonably believed that you could kill them.
Is a terroristic threat in NJ a crime?
A terroristic threat is a third-degree felony.
If it is done during a period of national, state, or county emergency, it is a second-degree crime.
Read more about Felony Charges in New Jersey
Are you seriously telling me that I face prison for speaking my mind?
Everything depends on the situation.
If you are found guilty of a third-degree terrorist threat charge, you will face 3 to 5 years in prison. However, there is a “presumption against incarceration”.
This means that the court will not consider prison as a first option. The court will consider other penalties, such as probation.
On the other hand, if you are found guilty of a second-degree terrorist threat charge, you will face 5 to 10 years in prison. There is a “presumption for incarceration”. This means that the court will consider prison as a first option.
Again, everything depends on all the circumstances surrounding your case.
The court will examine your criminal history.
The court will listen to the arguments made by your defense counsel as to why you should not go to prison, or why you should be sentenced to less time than the prosecutor is asking for.
But I only said those things because I was angry!
We understand your frustration, but most prosecutors and judges see things differently.
Even if you’re upset, you are still held responsible for your actions.
Everyone’s case is different and facts make cases.
For example, your next door neighbor is having a loud party. You call him and say you are going to drop an atomic bomb on her house if she doesn’t stop playing the music so loud. The court may or may not find you guilty of making a terroristic threat.
On the other hand, if you walked over to the neighbor, knocked on her door, pointed a pistol at her, and said to turn the music off or else, the chances are stronger that the court would find you committed a terroristic threat.
A momentary bout of angry words is not necessarily a terroristic threat. Irrational threats are less likely to be considered terroristic threats than a threat that appears realistic. The court must find that the threat appeared real to a reasonable person.
Can I get a NJ terroristic Threat charge for what i say online?
New Jersey has a law specifically for “Cyberbullying”.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4.1, cyberbullying is a form of harassment.
It is a fourth-degree crime or third-degree crime, depending on the circumstances
The law says that “Cyber-harassment” is when a person:
Makes a communication in an online capacity by any electronic device or through a social networking site; with the purpose to harass another; and the person:
(1) threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person;
(2) knowingly sends, posts, comments, requests, suggests, or proposes any lewd, indecent, or obscene material to or about a person with the intent to emotionally harm a reasonable person or place a reasonable person in fear of physical or emotional harm to his person; or
(3) threatens to commit any crime against the person or the person’s property.
So, if you make an online threat to harm a person, or a threat to harm the person’s property someone online, you could be charged with cyber-harassment.
Or if you post or send lewd photographs of a person, with the intent to cause emotional pain, you may be charged with cyber-harassment.
Is it illegal to talk bad about somebody online?
Let’s get a couple of things clear.
You have a sacred First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech.
No one is taking that away from you.
Expressing your opinion of someone online is not necessarily illegal.
However, if you threaten to harm someone online, you may face charges.
It all depends on what you said, and why you said it.
A court will examine all the facts surrounding your case.
Don't be surprised if you get Other charges...
Terroristic threat charges usually come in “bundles”.
If you plead guilty or are found guilty of a Disorderly Persons offense, you face up to six months in jail and up to a one thousand dollar fine.
You must wait for five years from the date you completed your sentence before you can get an expungement.
If you plead guilty or are found guilty of a felony, you must wait ten years to get your records expunged.
If you get arrested for Terroristic Threats, don’t try to explain yourself.
Keep quiet and ask for a lawyer.
All of your explanations won’t remove the handcuffs.
If anything, all of your talking will just get you into more trouble.