Terroristic Threats - Overview
A Terroristic Threat is a statement that puts another person in “real fear” of danger.
For example, “I have guns. Next time I see you, I’m going to shoot you.” (Third-degree Felony)
Or, “I made a bomb & I’m going to blow up your church”. (Second-degree Felony)
Getting the picture? Think twice before you say something in anger: you just might get arrested for making a Terroristic Threat.
We all get angry. And we all say things we don’t mean when we get angry.
But in New Jersey, you can be charged criminally the next time you blurt something out.
Terroristic Threats- felony or misdemeanor?
A Terroristic Threat can be charged as a 2nd or 3rd-degree Felony.
However, it is most commonly a 3rd-degree charge
Here’s the NJ law on Terroristic Threats 2C:12-3 (b):
b. A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he threatens to kill another with the purpose to put him in imminent fear of death under circumstances reasonably causing the victim to believe the immediacy of the threat and the likelihood that it will be carried out.
terroristic threats - Penalties
If you have been charged with 2nd-degree Terroristic Threats, you are facing between 5 – 10 years in prison.
If you have been charged with 3rd-degree Terroristic Threats, you are facing between 3 – 5 years in prison.
Now don’t panic.
Although these are serious charges that carry lengthy prison sentences, you still have options.
You may qualify for a special type of probation in New Jersey called Pretrial Intervention.
Terroristic Threats For "Just Making A Comment"?
Any comment made at the wrong time, in the wrong tone, and to the wrong person could result in your arrest.
From time to time we all make innocent comments that inevitably offend people.
The problem is that what we say and how we say can very easily get twisted.
You had no intention of “terrorizing” anyone but that’s not how they took it.
Thousands of people like you get charged with Terroristic Threats for making “comments”.
Terroristic Threat for "texting"?
Absolutely! In fact, your text to someone may be the one piece of evidence that the police will use to arrest you.
Remember, your text is a written communication that stays on the victim’s phone.
You have no control over it after you send it.
The person you text controls everything that was written before & after your message.
When the victim files a complaint, your statement stands alone.
All the police need is your message to generate the complaint.
Terroristic Threats - downgraded
But, this is only in theory. The best strategy to defend you on this type of charge is to fight for a “downgrade”.
We fight for you by persuading the county prosecutor to downgrade your charges.
This is how it works!
Terroristic Threat charges are felonies that start in Superior Court.
A “downgrade” means that your felony will “go down” to a lower court.
The “lower court” in New Jersey is the Municipal Court.
Only misdemeanors and lesser offenses are heard in Municipal Court.
Once we get your charge downgraded, it is out of “felony danger”.
Can Terroristic Threat Charges Get Dismissed?
Every criminal charge in New Jersey can get dismissed!
Of course, this includes Terroristic Threat charges.
Two of the most common ways that these charges get dismissed are:
1) The alleged victim dismisses it; OR
2) Your defense attorney successfully persuades the prosecutor to dismiss.
As Hackensack defense attorneys, we fight to get your case dismissed or downgraded.
During our investigation, we collect every bit of evidence that proves your innocence.
Basically, we uncover the truth and show the prosecutor that there is more than meets the eye.
This process requires patience and professionalism.
We present your side of the story in the light most favorable to you.
Always keep in mind that neither the prosecutor nor the judge was present when you made your comment.
It is our job to re-create the event and all of the circumstances surrounding the statement you made.
Terroristic Threats: will it show up on my record?
If you are convicted of a felony, it will definitely show up on your record.
You have to wait 6 years from the date of conviction before can “expunge” or erase a felony conviction in New Jersey.
Terroristic Threats & additional Charges
You were probably charged with a bundle of crimes. Do not panic, this is very common. You were charged with multiple crimes because the same “act” could fit the description of different crimes. Depending on the information the police have available to them, they can generate a complaint about many crimes. It is our job when we go to court for you to iron everything out.
In addition to Terroristic Threat charges, the police probably charged you with some or all of the following:
Simple Assault; Harassment; Stalking; Criminal Mischief and Criminal Trespass.
Terroristic Threats - Legal Defenses
If you take your case to trial, you are presumed innocent.
It is up to the government to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The government has to prove the following three things:
1) You threatened the victim;
2) You intended to threaten the victim; and
3) “A reasonable person would have believed the threat”.
The hardest thing for the government to prove is that you “intended” to threaten the victim.
If they cannot prove that your motivation was to “put the other person in fear”, then they have to acquit you.
Terroristic Threat charges are usually graded as 3rd-degree felonies.
A great strategy is for your lawyer to get the charges downgraded to harassment.
In this way, you’ll be facing a lesser offense instead of a felony.
It’s possible to get your Terroristic Threat charges dismissed, but it’s not that easy.
Most important of all, think twice before you give someone a piece of your mind! You just might get arrested for Terroristic Threats.
Please visit the Areas We Serve & Practice Areas pages for more information.