In Pennsylvania, terroristic threats is a commonly charged criminal offense. A simple argument between two individuals that escalates into a fight or a threat can become the basis for a terroristic threats charge. In the same way that terrorists inspire fear in order to accomplish their goals, an individual making a threat that causes someone else to fear violence can be charged with terroristic threats. For instance, if two individuals are arguing and one of them threatens to kill the other, the first individual could be charged with terroristic threats if it can be proven that the threat was made with the real intent to commit homicide.
Under Section 2706 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, a person commits the crime of terroristic threats if the person communicates, either directly or indirectly, a threat to:
(1) commit any crime of violence with intent to terrorize another;
(2) cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly or facility of public transportation; or
(3) otherwise cause serious public inconvenience, or cause terror or serious public inconvenience with reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience.
Most terroristic threats charge convictions are first-degree misdemeanors with a typical penalty for this crime a sentence of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Depending upon the severity of the crime and the circumstances surrounding the threat, however, some terroristic threats could be classified as third-degree felonies. For example, it is considered a third-degree felony if an individual causes an evacuation of a building or public transportation by making a threat of violence. Such a felony conviction carries a prison sentence of up to 7 years and a fine of $15,000.
Your best chance of avoiding a terroristic threats conviction is to hire an experienced Philadelphia terroristic threats attorney to defend you. Your attorney could work towards creating a plea deal to lessen your penalties, or even having the charge dropped altogether.
In addition to fines and/or jail time, a terroristic threats conviction can have a disastrous effect on your personal and professional life. A conviction may keep you from passing background checks for employment, certifications, housing or educational opportunities. You could even be fired from your job. If your charges also involve domestic violence, your right to own firearms under both federal and state laws could be affected.
Sometimes these potential collateral repercussions are as bad as the legal consequences. You can avoid or mitigate both legal and collateral consequences by securing the representation of a knowledgeable Philadelphia terroristic threats lawyer. Too much is at stake to trust your future and well-being to anyone else.
It can be a challenge for the Commonwealth to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual should be convicted of a terroristic threats charge, particularly if the individual’s alleged actions seem outside of what society generally considers to be terrorism. The statute requires that the prosecution prove both of the elements covered below.
The prosecution must prove that the defendant fully intended to harm the victim. The threat cannot merely be empty words that are communicated during an emotionally charged exchange.
The first element is usually proven by using the alleged victim as a witness. The alleged victim may testify that a verbal threat of harm was made to them by the defendant, or that a weapon was pointed at them in a threatening manner.
The second element is not as easy to prove. Just because a threat is said or demonstrated does not mean the defendant intended to act on the threat.
According to Commonwealth v. Anneski, the prosecution must establish that there was a real and genuine attempt to terrorize the complainant. Pennsylvania law recognizes that people say things in the heat of the moment that they do not mean. Your Philadelphia terroristic threats lawyer could use this point to your advantage
One common defense used in terroristic threats charges is that the complainant is not truthful about what took place. Through cross-examination, your Philadelphia terroristic threats attorney could highlight the inconsistencies in the complainant’s testimony. There may be differences between the story they told to the police and the story they told to the prosecution. Your attorney could work to prove that the complainant was fabricating their account of what happened.
Alternatively, your lawyer could prove to the jury that your threat was conditional, meaning it was never intended to be interpreted as a real threat.
Terroristic threats is a severe charge, not only because it ranges from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, but also because the title of the charge could have frightening implications if seen on a criminal record. Even if you only receive probation for your conviction, there are still long-term impacts that such a criminal record could have on your life. Don’t try to fight the charge by yourself.
At Wimmer Criminal Defense Law, we have extensive experience defending clients against terroristic threats charges. If you are under investigation or facing any type of criminal charges, now is the time to get help. Even if you have not yet been charged, your Philadelphia terroristic threats lawyer could help mitigate your situation, giving you an advantage going into your trial.
Schedule your criminal defense case consultation today with a skilled Philadelphia terroristic threats lawyer. Call Wimmer Criminal Defense Law day or night at 215-712-1212 or use our convenient online contact form. Your consultation is free and confidential.