The crime of terroristic threats is one of Pennsylvania’s most frequently prosecuted offenses. Unfortunately, terroristic threats can cover a wide range of conduct. Examples include arguments that expand into threats of violence, bar fights, road rage incidents, and neighbor disputes. Other examples include violent threats made through social media, phone calls, text messages, or e-mail. As a result, hiring an experienced PA terroristic threats defense lawyer is crucial once the police charge you with this crime.
Why You Need an Aggressive Criminal Defense Lawyer
A Pennsylvania terroristic threats charge can be graded as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. In addition, the penalties for making a terroristic threat include jail time, substantial court costs, and permanent damage to your reputation and standing in the community.
Unfortunately, the impact of a conviction for terroristic threats can be even more devastating for a young adult. A terroristic threat charge may prevent a young adult from entering a 1st-time offender program that would enable the juvenile to get the criminal case expunged from their record.
An Arrest or Conviction Can Destroy Your Future
Unfortunately, a conviction or juvenile finding of terroristic threats may suggest to others that you have committed a terrorism-related crime. In addition, some people may conclude you have difficulty controlling your anger. Finally, your child may be subject to school expulsion proceedings if the alleged threat occurred on school property.
The damaging effects of a terroristic threats conviction can follow you long after your case is over. As a result, employers and college admissions officers may be reluctant to extend employment or school acceptance offers to individuals with a criminal record for terroristic threats.
You May Have Difficulty Finding Employment After a Terroristic Threats Conviction
A conviction for terroristic threats may make it difficult for you to pass a background check, receive professional licensing or certification, travel abroad, or lawfully possess a firearm.
Many employers will avoid hiring a person with a terroristic threat record due to concerns about potential company liability if you repeat the behavior. Others may question whether the offense indicates that you have an unresolved psychological issue.
PA Terroristic Threats Defense Attorney
I have defended people in over 300 terroristic threats cases in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, Philadelphia County, and the surrounding Pennsylvania Counties. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation, or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
Terroristic Threats PA
According to Pennsylvania law, a person commits a terroristic threat if that person communicates, either directly or indirectly, a threat to:
- Commit any crime of violence with intent to terrorize another; or
- Cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation; or
- Otherwise, cause serious public inconvenience, cause terror or serious public inconvenience with reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience
What are the Elements of the Crime?
Under Pennsylvania law, the district attorney must prove both of the following elements to prove the crime of terroristic threats:
- A person threatened to commit a crime of violence; and
- The person communicated the threat with the intent to terrorize another person
The prosecutor is not required to prove that the accused had the actual ability to carry out the threat. In addition, the district attorney does not need to establish that the intended victim believed the offender would carry out the alleged threat.
What are Common Examples of Terroristic Threats?
The police will consider a broad range of conduct as a terroristic threat, including any of the following:
- Communicating a bomb threat
- Pointing a gun at another person
- Threatening to murder another person
- Threatening to kill another person
- Threatening to assault another person
Is Terroristic Threats a Felony in PA?
Terroristic threats can be a felony in Pennsylvania under certain circumstances. Under the statute, terroristic threats can be a misdemeanor or a felony based on the following:
- Misdemeanor of the first degree if the threat is against a person or persons
- Felony of the third degree if the threat causes evacuation or disruption of a place of assembly, facility, or public transportation
The police file the overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania terroristic threats cases as misdemeanors of the first degree. It is rare for the police to file terroristic threats charges related to actual domestic terrorism.
Terroristic Threats PA Punishment
A Pennsylvania terroristic threats charge is among the highest graded offenses in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. The following are the Pennsylvania terroristic threats penalties:
- Misdemeanor of the first degree
- Up to 5 years in state prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Felony of the third degree
- Up to 7 years in state prison
- Up to $15,000 in fines
Can my License be Suspended if I am Convicted of Terroristic Threats?
Yes. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) will suspend the driving privileges of any adult or juvenile convicted or adjudicated for the crime of terroristic threats. However, the terroristic threat must have occurred on school property or during any school-sponsored event. As an example, the period of suspension will be applied as follows:
- 1st offense 6-month driver’s license suspension
- 2nd offense 1-year driver’s license suspension
- 3rd offense 2-year driver’s license suspension
How To Get Terroristic Threat Charges Dropped
To achieve a successful outcome in a terroristic threats case, I thoroughly examine all evidence, including a complete analysis of all possible legal defenses. But, first, you must meet with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney to discuss the case’s facts and prepare an aggressive defense.
In some situations, the judge will dismiss the case because the alleged threat or statement does not meet the legal definition of a terroristic threat. In other cases, the prosecutor will drop the charges because I can prove that the accused did not communicate the threat directly to the alleged victim.
Prove the Accuser is Lying About the Alleged Terroristic Threat
Unfortunately, many people falsely report a terroristic threat to the police. In these cases, the accuser will have a hidden motivation to make a false accusation against a stranger, domestic partner, spouse, or neighbor. The reasons include revenge, anger, leverage in a custody matter, or an attempt to hide their own criminal behavior.
In many cases, I establish that the accuser lied about the alleged threat through vigorous questioning in court. To prove this, I demonstrate that the complainant may have given inconsistent versions of the incident to the police, emergency dispatch, or family members and friends.
In other cases, I have shown that the accuser made up the accusation to get the defendant incarcerated or removed from their home.
Is Transitory Anger a Defense?
Yes. Momentary or “transitory anger” is one of the most effective defenses against a terroristic threats case. It is common in cases involving an argument or other types of verbal disputes. If proven in court, transitory anger is a complete defense to the crime of terroristic threats.
What is Transitory Anger?
Transitory anger occurs when a person temporarily loses their temper due to an argument or other stressful circumstances. Unfortunately, this type of spur-of-the-moment anger is common. It can occur among the calmest and most level-headed people. I have been successful in using the transitory anger defense in court.
How Do I Know If I Have a Transitory Anger Defense to Terroristic Threats?
Some or all of the following factors can create a legal defense to the charge of terroristic threats:
- The alleged victim provoked the incident
- The accused made a single threat
- The accused made the threat during an unexpected, chance encounter
- The accused made the threat during a period of momentary anger
- The accused did not make threats of future violence
Can My Terroristic Threats Case be Reduced to a Lower Charge?
Yes. A Defendant’s post-arrest completion of anger management treatment or other counseling will often result in the prosecutor lowering the charges. As an experienced PA terroristic threats defense attorney, I will review the evidence in your case and negotiate with the district attorney to lessen the punishment in your case. The district attorney often will agree to a reduced charge or a favorable sentencing recommendation.
Contact a Bucks County Terroristic Threats Defense Lawyer
Have the police charged you with terroristic threats based on outright lies or due to an innocent argument? If so, contact me immediately. I offer a skilled criminal defense at affordable rates. My practice area includes Bucks County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Delaware County, Philadelphia County, and the nearby Pennsylvania Counties.